A few years ago I had the opportunity to work with a large unit in a state-wide government agency that was feeling completely downtrodden.
They had been confronted with numerous challenges including the adoption of new technology that had resulted in scandalous cost overruns and negative attention in the press. Through it all, the individual site managers had to try and maintain morale, implement a new system, train their employees on the new system and face an annoyed public. They were exhausted.
For their annual meeting we designed a gathering for over 100 managers. These were good men and women and they needed to reconnect to the larger work of the organization, to remember why they became managers and to locate new energy for the ongoing change. The agenda relied heavily on Appreciative Inquiry with lots of time given to interaction with their peers.
Over the day and half they realized that they were all in the same boat, all experiencing the same struggles. And by the end of the session they had renewed their commitment to making the changes–together. They determined new ways to support one another and left the meeting feeling renewed.
At the end of the day one participant told me, “Maggie, you give hope.” Certainly, a nice compliment for me but a real testament to the power of Appreciative Inquiry to generate energy for change.