Asset Based Thinking

Asset Based Thinking
A concept closely aligned with
Appreciative Inquiry
Two Approaches to Change/Innovation
• identify problem
• conduct analysis
• brainstorm solutions
• develop action plan
• appreciate “What is”
• imagine “What might
• determine “What
should be”
• create “What will be”
Just think what could be possible if
people focused their attention on:
• Opportunities rather than problems
• Strengths more than weaknesses
• What can be done instead of what can’t
When you decrease your focus on what
is wrong (deficit-based thinking) and
increase your focus on what is right
(asset-based thinking), you build
enthusiasm and energy, strengthen
relationships, and move people and
productivity to the next level.
What Asset-Based Thinking Is
• A concrete, cognitive process aimed at
identifying the assets that are immediately
available in yourself, other people, and
any situation
• In the light of opportunity, it blocks out
distractions and creates a focal point of
concentration and high energy that keeps
you alert and inspired
What Asset-Based Thinking Is Not
• Not blind optimism or magical thinking
• Not a quick fix
• Not based on theory alone……..but on
direct observation of a growing minority of
highly effective and satisfied people
• Not just positive thinking or attitude …. but
a call for positive action
What Deficit-Based Thinking Is
• A concentration on personal gaps and
weaknesses, what is bothersome and
irritating about others, and what is not
working, problematic and holding us back
• It shows us the problem from a negative
angle so we are able to solve or eliminate
whatever impedes success
• Deficit-based thinking comes naturally
because the human nervous system is
hard wired to be more sensitive to
signals of impending danger than to
signals of opportunity
• Even though deficit-based thinking
protects us under dire circumstances, it
may begin to dominate our thinking
• A “steady diet” of defict-based thinking
may lead to depletion in energy, and
expectations of problems and
• Defict-based thinking may begin to cloud
or perceptions, blind us to possibilities,
and limit our options
Asset-Based Thinking
• Calls for small shifts in the way we absorb, perceive,
filter, and interpret
Changes the way we see things, leading to improvement
in the way we live
Zeros in on what’s working rather than what’s not and
favors inspiration and aspiration over
desperation………and it is infectious
Find your “fall” partner. Have a
conversation ………
• What might a healthy balance of
Deficit-Based and Asset-Based
Thinking look like?
You are invited to plan for your personal
professional growth from a positive
• consider your strengths, not
just your weaknesses
• identify your curiosities and your
You are invited to consider developing a “joint” Professional Growth
Plan, where you work with a partner
• meaning is socially constructed
• learning with a partner can challenge thinking,
and extend and deepen understanding
• partner work can increase motivation and
“Joint” Professional Growth Plans
• are co-authored by two partners
• have partners who share the same
goals, rationale, objectives, and
• may have individual differences in
strategy and evaluation
“Values, vision, and purpose are the
foundation of the school’s culture and are
crucial to the kind of purposeful optimism
that characterizes hope.”
(Hulley & Dier, 2005)
“Organizations without a view of reality
may stumble along for a while but will
never succeed. Organizations without
vision remain mere organizations,
surviving but not living, hitting temporary
targets but not moving toward potential.”
(DePree, 2003)
“We can teach ourselves to see things they
way they are. Only with vision can we
begin to see things the way they can be.”
(DePree, 2003)
Effective educational leaders play a
critical role. They connect with others in
ways that enrich and energize,
demonstrate “clarity of thought
regarding values and beliefs,
commitment to a compelling purpose,
the magnet-like force of richly detailed
vision of that which we desire to create”,
and sustain motivation by an expanded
set of possibilities.
(Sparks, 2005)
Crafting a Personal Vision Statement
1. Clarify your core professional values.
2. Imagine what our schools would look
like if they were living these values.
3. Draft your vision statement.
Find your “winter” partner. Walk and talk.
Share your personal vision statement.
“How different our lives are when we really
know what is deeply important to us, and,
keeping that picture in mind, we manage
ourselves each day to be and do what
really matters.”
(Steven Covey)