How do *Organizations* Flourish

December 27, 2012

By: Chris White

Originally posted on Lead Positively

In Flourish, Penn Professor Marty Seligman lays out a five-component framework for maximizing well-being in your own life. It got me thinking: in what ways can this be applied to organizations?

I am paraphrasing, but Seligman’s acronym, PERMA, stands for:

  • Positive Emotions: such as joy, gratitude, hope…
  • Engagement: a state of flow that comes from engaging your talents in a project that helps you grow
  • Positive Relationships: having connections with others that foster each others growth and happiness
  • Positive Meaning: interpreting the actions of your life as being for a cause that aligns with your values
  • Accomplishment: seeing that your efforts result in progress in ways that are meaningful to you

Oftentimes, people are not at optimal levels across all five categories. For many of us, we tend to be weaker on some areas than others inherently in our lives. Seligman, for example, points out that he isn’t typically “high scoring” on Positive Emotions, but the rest of the criteria are well met. As such, he often considers himself to be in a state of Flourishing.

My particular interest, and that of The Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship, is – as the name implies – at an organizational level. How can we apply these characteristics to the systems, structures, processes, culture of our workplaces and other organizations? In the next five posts, I will share some thoughts and ideas on each of the five dimensions of Flourishing, based on what I have been learning through our work here at the Center, and from the field of Positive Organizational Scholarship. I am sure it will not be comprehensive though, so please feel free to share your own!

Next up: Positive Emotions!