REVIEWING SUCCESS: INDEX
Where has all the potential gone?Watching young children at play is almost as interesting as watching adults watching young children at play.
Many of my climbing friends have been quick to point out how their toddlers have a natural talent for 'climbing'.
Other parents watching their offspring's antics think their children will make good clowns.
When toddlers grunt or bang spoons, friendly adults say they will be pop stars.
When babies smile, aunties say they'll be famous models.
dribble witty uncles say they'll make good
Every micro-sign of potential gets identified and magnified - in the first years of life.
But ten or fifteen years later the OPPOSITE is happening. Every micro-sign of a problem gets noticed and commented on by teachers, parents and other critical adults. Most teenagers will tell you this is so.
And ten years later in the workplace it is WEAKNESSES and MISTAKES that will often attract more attention and comment than strengths and potential.
How on earth can 'potential' develop in such unfavourable circumstances?
In 'The One Minute Manager', Hersey and Blanchard implore managers to catch people doing things right, and to reverse expectations that ''management = fault-finding''.
'Learning Organisations' can help to reverse this negative spiral - but ONLY IF their learning culture gives sufficient attention to successes and possibilities - so as to balance the inevitable (and necessary) attention that learners give to mistakes and difficulties.
Appreciative Inquiry is a philosophy and a bundle of practices that is designed to counteract such negativity. It is an approach to research, to organisation development and to personal development. It is optimism turned into a science. And there is plenty of evidence that it works.
Making the switch in emphasis from fault-finding to talent-spotting is the key to developing potential. Faults should not be studied in isolation from the very forces that can prevent and solve them.
How can you raise Self-Esteem?5 confidence-raising combinations of activities and reviewing
REPLAY RELATIVE SUCCESSES
HIGHLIGHT CONTRIBUTIONS TO SUCCESS
CELEBRATE HIGH POINTS IN FAVOURITE ACTIVITIES
RELIVE THE STORY:
''HOW I ACHIEVED THE IMPOSSIBLE''
COMMUNICATE ON ALL CYLINDERS
What's in your Success Store?The more learners know about their own ''recipes for success'', the greater the chance that they will use them again. Also the very process of studying the ''secrets of this success'' makes future success more likely - whether or not clear recipes are produced.
Ask learners to imagine they run a SUCCESS STORE.
store is full of items
that will help them to be successful. Ask them to take a look in their
and tell you what they
Ask people from time to time to check the shelves of their 'Success Store' and tell you what they see. As they get used to the idea, the shelves will slowly fill up. See it as a stock-taking exercise.
This is NOT a needs analysis (That would involve itemising what is NOT on the shelves). It is an audit of what you already have - even if in only small quantities, or even if it is something that is not always visible on the shelf. Every 'Storekeeper' also works as a 'talent scout'. They need to get used to the idea of noticing what is in their own store and what is in other people's stores.
When a group first meets, or when a familiar group starts out on new projects or adventures, no-one quite knows what they will find in their own store or in each other's stores. Initial thoughts might be:
''Do I have what it takes?''
There is a natural curiosity to ask such questions at the start of any training programme - whatever the nature of the challenges it presents. The 'Success Store' builds on this natural inquisitiveness. (It is tempting to rename it the Curiosity Shop!) To start with the shelves are fairly empty. That is not because people lack talent. It is because people's talent is locked away in the store cupboard at the back and is not out on the shelves.
In many work cultures, the prevailing humour is often about 'empty' shelves. It involves cutting people down to size by focusing on their blind spots. Such humour can at times be very funny - especially when it is an attack on pretentiousness or when it is someone laughing about their own empty shelves. Pretentiousness is people pretending to be greater than they are. But many people play safe and pretend to be less than they are - and get stuck like it - sitting on their latent abilities.
So a key strategy in reviewing (represented here by the 'Success Store') is to provide people with a whole range of opportunities in which they will discover untapped potential in themselves and in others. Ideally this variety of opportunities extends throughout a programme - and applies BOTH to the learning activities AND to the reviewing methods.
When did you last look at your own 'Success Store'?
The point of this stage of reviewing (we're not finished yet!) is to get people tuning in to each other's qualities, talents, interests, strengths and potential. That's a fairly random list. These can be labels on different shelves. Each label represents different sets of qualities that individuals might draw on in order to help them achieve their objectives.
An appreciative review helps to develop potential. There are many ways of structuring and showing appreciation. Where groups are not naturally appreciative, or where people are not specific about the qualities and talents they are appreciating, it is necessary for facilitators to do some structuring and enabling.
The 'Success Store' provides a useful metaphor, especially if it captures people's imaginations. Alternatives in the same family of appreciative reviewing techniques are: 'My Ten Best Points', 'A Vote of Thanks', 'Personal Recipes for Success', 'Team Recipes for Success' and appraisal sessions in which there is a built in positive bias together with an opportunity to use symbolism. This is because symbols and imagery can capture qualities that are difficult to describe adequately in words alone.
This is where appraisal exercises such as 'Gifts' can be particularly useful and powerful. Action Replays can be even more effective for highlighting and celebrating successes. Replays tend to be most useful for celebrating a group success. But replays can be directed in such a way that individual contributions to success are clearly highlighted and celebrated.
When trying out new reviewing exercises like 'Success Store', test the water with an abbreviated version. If the metaphor catches on, build on it - or encourage learners to do so.
Keep an eye out for what's working well - and use it. If you prefer to put all your eggs in one basket, don't let me stand in your way! But remember that more cautious approaches also pay off - IF you are observant enough to work with early signs of success, and astute enough to know when it's time to try something else.
Be prepared and be prepared to change what you have prepared! By staying alert to opportunities and obstacles, and by believing that people do have plenty of untapped potential, the above tools, strategies and tips will help you to create luck for yourself and others. And when this happens - tell me about it: firstname.lastname@example.org !
The original version of this page was published in
Active Reviewing Tips 2.11