Glass Half Full Appreciative Inquiry, blog, Toby Elwin, organization change

Glass half empty of an appreciative view

glass half, full, empty, Appreciative InquiryWhat we see in life has to do with they way we view life. A view is a shortcut to a perspective and a way we look at our world represents how we relate to our world.

The glass half full or glass half empty presents a shortcut perspective of the pessimist view or optimist view, respectively.  In this shortcut people look at a glass that is 50% of liquid.  Typically, one of two perspectives comes out:

  • Person A¬†claims¬†the glass is half full.
  • Person B claims¬†the glass is half empty.

Appreciative Inquiry

From each statement we infer their outlook or perspective as half full represents the optimist view or half empty represents a pessimist view. From the shortcut two perspectives emerge:

  1. Half full. Halcyon days ahead, things look bright.
  2. Half empty. Storm clouds on horizon, things not quite right.

Appreciative Inquiry takes us beyond the shortcut of these two views.

Full of Possibility

With an appreciative mindset the glass is neither half full, nor half empty. The glass is full: half full of air and half full of liquid.

Words create worlds.  That saying presents an example of the constructionist principle and highlights the language we choose as a direct lead to forward interpretation. The words chosen present a fateful direction.

Contrasting Models for Organization Change

Problem-Solving Approach Appreciative Inquiry
Basic Assumption: an organization is a problem to be solved Basic Assumption: an organization is a mystery to be embraced
Identification of the problem Appreciating and valuing the best of what is
Analysis of causes Envisioning what might be
Analysis of possible solutions Dialoguing what should be
Action planning Innovating what will be

Language directly impacts our interpretation of experience.

Next time someone offers the half empty/half full shortcut, offer an alternative view that the glass is full and see where the conversation leads.

Two further sources:

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