Thursday, December 17, 2015

Strategic Planning through Appreciative Inquiry

Consider the following questions: If we were truly at our best, what would that look like? Think to a time when you felt a sense of accomplishment in your work; what were the circumstances? As we think about planning for 2016, what is one thing you would do differently if you knew you could not fail?

In early January we will embark together on a journey of positive change that begins with developing our strategic plan.  Each member of UVAFinance will contribute his or her answers to these and other questions, and in so doing define our desired future state. Appreciative Inquiry (AI) will be the process we use to guide us in strategic planning.

AI addresses an organization’s challenges by uncovering and building on strengths and generating innovation and creativity to confidently confront the future. AI is a genuine paradigm shift for organizational change, grounded in behavioral science. Through AI, we will discover the values of our members and other stakeholders and create an aligned vision and mission based on those values. We will follow a process of Appreciating, Imagining and Realizing.

We begin with APPRECIATING our strengths and the circumstances that lead to our highest performance. We will discover the elements and experiences within our past that represent the forces that enable us to operate at our very best. Once we have connected to this positive core, we will move to IMAGINING and visualizing a shared, positive vision of the future that compels us to act. We will then move to REALIZING that vision, as we design and then implement the strategies, processes, management systems, organization structure, behaviors and culture necessary to support our future organization.

What AI is not: we will not be overlooking problems or areas where we need to improve. We won’t be pretending that everything is perfect and everyone happy. We won’t be squelching challenge, conflict or critique.  However, we will be making a choice to reframe our weaknesses and threats in the context of managing those by expanding our strengths and opportunities. We will be making a choice confirmed by modern neuroscience—focusing on our strengths broadens and builds our capability for individual and organizational high performance.

This has been a quick introduction to Appreciative Inquiry and a brief overview of how we are going to complete a strategic plan that taps into the collective wisdom, knowledge and passion of each of us. We will be learning a lot more over the next few months as we come together. I’m confident we will find this work energizing, exciting, and meaningful. Teams that have learn the processes of AI and focus on positive change make life enriching changes in the ways they work together.

Together, we will develop a plan to guide our future. We will set a course of action creating new approaches and opportunities for institutional growth and optimization while leveraging the uniqueness of our culture. When this process is completed, we will each see our ourselves, our roles, and our purpose in serving others that connects the mission of UVAFinance to the University’s Cornerstone Plan.

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