Strategic Futurists; Value Systems Specialists


Sometimes there's no Ying and Yang, It's all Yang or All Ying But it's STILL a Choice

Thursday 23 June 2016

One of the challenging things dealing with some executive teams or leadership groups is what to do when there is an expectation, either explicit or implied, that there will be a 'good' option. But the reality for many organisations is that there will come a time when no matter which way you look at things, the choices still look bad. The question is what you do at that point

And the responses are not always good. In asetting where 'never tell the boss bad news' exists (typically those that emphasise that mistakes will not be tolerated, and where there is a critical lack of intelligent experimentation permitted), any hint that a choice is negative, or alternatively that there's no really good choices, the organisation will 'create' a choice that seems palatable. In otherwords, they make something up!

EVEN WHEN those that put that choice together KNOW there is NO CHANCE such a choice is valid or viable.

Two examples from futures work are two scenario developments that provide insights into the senior leadership in play. One the Eygypt 2020 scenarios provided for potential pathways for the development of a future Eygypt. One of the four pathways seemed good (preferrable) but unlikely. The other three were somewhat confrontational though just as well grounded in the narrative development. The group that put those scenarios together was shut down shortly thereafter a case of 'shoot the messenger'. Another set of scenarios developed by the UN looked at Aids in Africa. The 'best' scenario that could be developed given all available thinking at the time, was captured in my summary here: 'If we were to start now and do everything we can to address the issue, AIDS in Africa may stabilise around 2070'.

Yep, 60 years to get things to a level of stability. And that was the best possible scenario that could be envisaged at the time. Thankfully action is still underway though perhaps not at the levels required to hit the target.

How your organisation responds when they are faced with 'we've got some really bad news, some pretty bad news and some just bad news' as the choices will determine how well you cope. Denial is not an effective strategy. Executives and Leadership teams must be able to determine which pathway works in the near term future to set up a more palatable and desireable medium and long term future. They then need to have that conversation with staff and provide them with the same choices to show that decisions are not being made for no apparent reason.

Sometimes all you have to play with is Ying and more Ying or Just Yang and a lot more Yang

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