Theory E²: Working with Entrepreneurs in Closely-Held Enterprises III. The Appreciation of Entrepreneurship and Enterprise

Theory E²: Working with Entrepreneurs in Closely-Held Enterprises III. The Appreciation of Entrepreneurship and Enterprise

Establishing a Positive Organizational Image of the Future

This fourth use of the term appreciation relates both to individual attitudes and organizational climate. Appreciative organizations lean into the future. We grow to appreciate a closely-held enterprise by investing it with optimism. In an appreciative enterprise there is a pervasive sense of hope about the future for this organization and the valuable role it can play in society. “Organization wide affirmation of the positive future is the single most important act that a system can engage in if its real aim is to bring to fruition a new and better future.” (Cooperrider, 1990, p. 119)

Effective entrepreneurial leaders, in such a setting, will be “not only concerned with what is but also with what might be.” (Frost and Egri, 1990, p. 305) Employees come to appreciate their own role and that played by other members of the organization regarding contributions that enable the organization to realize its purposes and values. Tim Russert, the former moderator of Meet the Press, disclosed a phrase used by his father: “fail forwards.”—that is learn from our mistakes and trace out the implications of the lessons learned from our failures for our future actions. (Russert, 2004)

Recognizing Distinctive Strengths and Competencies

Appreciation in an intimate organizational setting—such as is found in closely-held enterprises—also refers to recognition of the distinct strengths and potentials of individuals working within the organization. An appreciative culture is forged when an emphasis is placed on the realization of inherent potential and the uncovering of latent strengths, rather than on the identification of weaknesses or deficits. This is a critical attitudinal variable. People and organizations “do not need to be fixed. They need constant reaffirmation.” (Cooperrider, 1990, p. 120)


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William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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