Appreciative Thinking

There is nothing “given” about organisations. They are purely a social and human construct.   The same kind of business process and outcome can be structured into a range of organisations, depending totally on the social milieu, social lifestyles and values. This is because people think in symbolic mental processes and social constructs such as organisations is simply the translation of those   A different frame of reference will produce a totally different organisation.

The fact there is nothing “natural” about any particular organisational structure is equally true of the actions of those organisations.   Organisational actions are simply the accumulated effect of the actions of multiple individuals. In turn, individual actions are the outward expression of social and/or value-based mental, emotional and physical stimuli.

Mental and emotional stimuli are both image-bound and often clearly create the physical stimuli leading to action.   For example, well before a public speech, our physical state can be altered by thinking about the audience we are going to be facing. Showing someone a photograph of a person they dislike will immediately raise blood pressure.   Between one third and two thirds of patients in a clinical trial can be expected to show a “placebo effect” – a state triggered by a belief that the placebo is actually a real, known and effective treatment.   The same effect has been known in organisational terms since the 1920s Hawthorne Works experiments where productivity improvement was triggered simply by someone viewing workers, regardless of what the viewers actually did.

Most importantly, mental imagery has a future time dimension, an “anticipatory reality” that feeds into self-fulfilment of expectations through changing actions, i.e. creating an image in the minds of people will affect their actions and the effects of those actions.

For example, there have been a number of studies based on dividing a set of pupils into three groups chosen...