A Strengths Based Culture is a social system that aims at identifying and using the talents of every employee.

Strengths are talents plus skills and knowledge. Individual Strengths are made sustainable when there exists a supportive relationship, target recognition, and realistic expectations. Employees in such a social system will be more likely to be positively engaged.

Theory U is a theoretical framework for depth understanding of principles, practices, and processes. Theory U illuminates the source level of social systems. It allows reflection before action.

The common denominator in both Theory U and Strengths Based Culture is RELATIONSHIP. The common approach is through effective communication and heightened self-awareness. The skill most likely to forward best practices is the skill of effective LISTENING.

The path to healthy positive relationship could be realized through applications of Theory U. The Strengths Coaching process could emphasize and foster open minds, open hearts, and open wills with suspension of judgment, awareness of cynicism, and courage to recognize fear.

Understanding and applying Theory U in our Strengths Coaching process will allow us to become fully ENGAGED.

Our best, highest development of talents will come forth in an atmosphere of Presencing.

Katrin Kauefer presented Theory U to the management teams from Canada and Latin America in May of 2008. One exercise was a 30-minute “Dialogue Walk”. Strengths conversations could be held in a similar Dialogue Walk. Two people in quiet reflection, sharing with each other what frustrates and what energizes would be a good exercise to try at a Strengths Coaching meeting. Our Strengths Coaches could generate other topics for more Dialogue Walks.

Elements of the U process such as suspending and redirecting and letting go will clear the way for Strengths to grow. Theory U can be used to solve problems, generate creative solutions, and elevate Engagement scores.

Concepts from Theory U such as co-creating, co-evolving, co-initiating, co-presencing, and co-sensing lend themselves to good use in building a Strengths-Based Culture. Relationships are built and evolved through healthy communication and focused conversation.

Theory U is not easy to understand at first but the knowledge will be worth the effort. Building a Strengths Based Culture may not appear simple, but, again it is in the direction of positive growth, therefore it is worth pursuing.

Reading List

For Building a Strengths Based Culture:
First, Break All the Rules, by Buckingham and Coffman
Now, Discover Your Strengths by Buckingham and Clifton
How Full Is Your Bucket? By Rath and Clifton

For understanding Theory U:
Presence, by Peter Senge, Otto Scharmer, et al
Theory U by Otto Scharmer

Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Ego-System Economies

by Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer