Thanks for the note Tony. I’m familiar with Appreciative Inquiry and I do think it’s an important and valid way to balance the tendency of most managers to focus on fixing vs creating.
What I have found is that most teams have trust deficits. This is not really their fault because most organizations do a lot of things, usually with good intentions, that undermine trust. Distrust is built into the org structure, metrics, processes and management practices. This is, sadly, very common.
My first action is to work with the team to identify trust deficits and talk honestly about them. Where they lack trust, and what needs to happen to build it, both inside the team and outside. Trust is really a prerequisite for any kind of systems thinking.
The next step after trust is to build a shared understanding of the work system. I find current state is the best place to start. Without trust it’s very difficult to get valid information because people usually have all kinds of reasons to hide it (need to look good, show positive numbers, etc.). With trust, progress is possible.
I like current state as a starting point because before you start changing things it’s useful to understand what’s happening today. Usually there’s a lot of good stuff to appreciate in the current state, so it doesn’t have to be all about problems.