Why it is Wrong to Blame Leadership?


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How do leaders get organizations out of bad habits? How do they improve the culture? Negative thinking causes depression and anxiety in people and organizations. Positive thinking creates better habits and produces resiliency in people. Does it do the same in corporations?

This thought caused me to wonder about our thinking around problem solving and particularly Lean. If we are only searching for problems, if we are only looking for things wrong, does that limit our our organizations and leadership from succeeding? Is that the problem we have in developing sustainability in change?

From Wikipedia:

Positive Deviance is an approach to behavioral and social change based on the observation that in any community, there are people whose uncommon but successful behaviors or strategies enable them to find better solutions to a problem than their peers, despite facing similar challenges and having no extra resources or knowledge than their peers. These individuals are referred to as positive deviants. The Positive Deviance approach is a strength-based approach which is applied to problems requiring behavior and social change. It is based on the following principles:

  • Communities already have the solutions. They are the best experts to solve their problems.
  • Communities self-organize and have the human resources and social assets to solve an agreed-upon problem.
  • Collective intelligence. Intelligence and know-how is not concentrated in the leadership of a community alone or in external experts but is distributed throughout the community. Thus the PD process’s aim is to draw out the collective intelligence to apply it to a specific problem requiring behavior or social change.
  • Sustainability as the cornerstone of the approach. The PD approach enables the community or organization to seek and discover sustainable solutions to a given problem because the demonstrably successful uncommon behaviors are already practiced in that community within the constraints and challenges of the current situation.
  • It is easier to change behavior by practicing it rather than knowing about it. “It is easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than think your way into a new way of acting”.

In my non-expert opinion, the proper way that organizations should develop is through a positive or a strength-based approach. Instead of the constant leadership bashing that occurs by most consultants, should we not be finding strengths and developing corporations from their core capabilities?

My favorite book on this subject  is Appreciative Inquiry for Change Management: Using AI to Facilitate Organizational Development and my podcast & transcript with the author along with several of strength based practitioners is located on this page:  Appreciative Inquiry.

Recently I had David Shaked take part in a podcast about his new book, Building Positive Engagements with Lean and Six Sigma,

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


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