strategic thinking and appreciative inquiry - westwood international - team building

Strategic Thinking and Appreciative Inquiry

Sep 08, 2023

Over many years in leadership development, I've witnessed the evolution of various enterprises. Among the myriad of strategies, two notions consistently shine: Strategic Thinking and Appreciative Inquiry. Individually, they offer insights; together, they pave a path for enduring progress and ingenuity.


Unraveling Strategic Thinking

In corporate dynamics, strategic thinking is like the North Star. It’s not just about plotting a course but understanding the terrain.

 At its heart, strategic thinking is about preparing for the future. It crafts a bridge between today's realities and tomorrow's aspirations. By analyzing potential challenges and opportunities, it informs decisions that shape an organization's trajectory. Strategic thinking isn’t a static document that gathers dust. It’s a living, breathing ethos, embedding foresight into an organization's DNA. When done right, it's about agility as much as it is about direction.


Appreciative Inquiry: Celebrating Today

 While strategic thinking is about charting the course, Appreciative Inquiry is about understanding the vessel – its strengths, capabilities, and all that it brings to the table.

Where traditional models might zone in on challenges or gaps, Appreciative Inquiry shifts the lens to what’s working brilliantly. It’s about recognizing and maximizing existing strengths, cultivating a positive core. This isn’t just about morale (though that’s a significant part). By focusing on strengths, teams can unlock innovative solutions and pathways that might otherwise remain obscured.

 While they might seem like disparate realms, there's a profound synergy between forward-focused strategy and strength-based appreciation. Strategic thinking sketches the horizon, while Appreciative Inquiry ensures the ship is in prime condition for the journey. One plots the destination; the other ensures the vessel is celebrated and understood. By recognizing departmental strengths and weaving them into a broader strategic roadmap, they not only enhanced their operational efficiency but also fostered a culture of innovation and mutual respect.


Embracing Both: Steps to A Cohesive Approach

  1. Visionary Workshops: Integrate sessions that map out future objectives but also spotlight current strengths. It’s a forum for reflection and ambition.


  1. Feedback Loops: Create mechanisms where teams can share successes. This real-time insight can influence strategy and immediate tactical decisions.
  2. Adaptive Planning: Strategy shouldn’t be rigid. As you celebrate and recognize strengths, allow your strategic plans to adapt and evolve.


If there’s one truth I've discerned, it's that businesses thrive when they balance aspiration with appreciation. Strategic Thinking and Appreciative Inquiry, together, offer a compass and a beacon. By understanding and cherishing today, while being attuned to the promise of tomorrow, organizations don’t just navigate the future; they shape it.

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