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Resources for Positive Organization Development

Long-time readers and associates know of my interest in positive organization development. What follows is a short list of organization development resources for those readers who are interested in looking at some of the research supporting positive organization development.

First, a quote from Daniel Goleman, “As new ways of scientifically measuring human development start to bear out these theories and link them directly with performance, the so-called soft side of business begins to look not so soft after all.”

Bad is Stronger than Good
Research from Case Western University and the Free University of Amsterdam says, “Bad emotions, bad parents, and bad feedback have more impact than good ones, and bad information is processed more thoroughly than good.”  The implications are for experiences, interactions, and events at home and work. It takes 5 good interactions over a period of time to overcome 1 bad interaction or experience. The authors discuss extensive research in the positive-negative asymmetry effect. Food for thought: What impact would be felt if people in workplaces and families did their best to eliminate the negative patterns.

Appreciative Inquiry is Not (Just) About the Positive
Research from Simon Fraser University says, “Many people seem to get blinded by the ‘positive stuff’. After years of focusing on problems and deficits and dysfunction they get entranced with “focusing on the positive” and equate this with AI, but I don’t think that is the core of appreciative inquiry. Instead, the core of AI is generativity (Cooperrider & Srivastva,1987).” The implications here are for leaders and consultants who facilitate change in organizations. (Read more G.R. Bushe research here.)

Positive Deviance, and Performance
Research from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan says that the greater the levels of perceived trust and compassion, “the greater the amount of innovation, quality, and customer retention, and the lower the amount of employee turnover.” The Discussion section, which begins on page 33, has a summary of the work being done in Positive Organization Scholarship. The questions here are for those who have the greatest potential to impact an organization’s culture, creating an environment where people and the bottom line thrive. (Read more from UM here.)

Open Hearts Build Open Lives
Research from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and the University of Michigan says, “People’s daily experiences of positive emotions compound over time to build a variety of consequential personal resources.” How can organizations intentionally work to build positive cultures that support the well-being of the organization and the people who create it? (Read more from UNC here.)

Social Intelligence and the Biology of Leadership
Research from Harvard University in summary says, “As we explore the discoveries of neuroscience, we are struck by how closely the best psychological theories of development map to the newly charted hardwiring of the brain. … [it is important to provide] a secure base from which people can strive toward goals, take risks without unwarranted fear, and freely explore new possibilities.” All of this is linked directly to improved performance by both personnel and the bottom line.” A good overview of social intelligence and how awareness impacts organizations. (Read more research from the EI Consortium here.)

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