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Positive Organization Generator

How often have you been excited and energized by the new ideas and possibilities you discover during a training workshop, only to lose momentum when you return to the realities of your workplace? Professor Robert Quinn from the University of Michigan, has recognized these frustrations when he provides training to employees at all levels from around the globe. And while people can see the possibilities for cultivating positive cultural change in their organizations in his classroom, he realized they needed ways to take these back into the real world and make them happen.  

To make the transition easier Robert and his students developed the Positive Organization Generator to help people generate ideas, and then create practices that they are committed to, believe in and can be implemented regardless of your level of responsibility. The tool steps you through three stages to create a vision for the future and turn this into reality. It gives you practical ways to:

  • Identify your aspirations – noting down what would be happening if your organization is an extremely positive place to work in, and then writing a vision statement projected one year into the future as if this has come to pass.
  • Assess your organization – completing a questionnaire based on ten of the most common tensions experienced in organizations. For example team cohesiveness versus group think, creative energy versus chaos to see where you currently stand.
  • Select positive practices – browsing through a hundred positive practices from a range of organizations across the world, and rating how powerful you think they would be if you were able to implement these in your workplace. These practices act as an inspirational baseline for you not to mimic, but to adapt so they become real for your context and the outcomes you hope to achieve.

You can also return to the Generator whenever you wish to re-assess your organization, re-invent new practices, and see how your organization is progressing. You can even create a workplace team community to share information, provide encouragement and track your developments together. And if you’re looking for a tribe of like-minded practitioners you can join the broader online Breakthrough community, where each member makes plans on a regular basis to try new positive practices, report on how well these go, and learn with others on how to build a positive organization.

How To Get The Tool?

 The Positive Organizational Generator is available for free from the Lift Exchange website.

What Have Researchers Found?

The tool is underpinned by research from Robert’s book The Positive Organization: Breaking Free from Conventional Cultures, Constraints, and Beliefs  where he recommends:

  • Becoming Bilingual – Organizational culture is often influenced by a set of conventional assumptions, ‘a mental map’, consisting of the realities of constraints, hierarchies of relationships, and traditional processes that guide their leaders to act in traditional ways. However, Robert suggests a ‘positive organizational mental map’, encourages leaders to look beyond these assumptions to search for excellence and find ways to move forward and grow. He suggests positive leadership requires you to hold both these opposing ideas simultaneously, so you can accept the constraints but look for possibilities to challenge the conventional thinking.
  • Leveraging the Competing Values Framework – In building a positive organization the challenge is to see all the tensions that exist within the system, not just the ones you are trained to see. The Competing Values Framework outlined in the tool, depicts how values can be both positive and negative. For example, full engagement of employees is positive, but when it goes too far can result in exhaustion, giving too much can lead to burn out, and unconstrained growth can lead to chaos.
  • Encouraging Collective Learning – Organizations are not only a stable hierarchies, but also a constantly changing social network of people, where everyone has information and influence. Robert has found that positive leaders encourage the common good, build networks, recognize and seize opportunities, expand roles, give others an authentic voice, and use collective learning to tap into new possibilities.
  • Embracing Emerging Change – Change not only happens from the top down, but can also emerge and flow from the bottom up without any centralizing mechanism. Robert suggests that carrying out new practices can create a positive ripple effect throughout the whole organization.
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