Friday, December 14, 2018
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Action Science

The Basis Of Our Seminar

Leadership, entrepreneurship and a sense of personal responsibility for achieving results means that most of us act to produce the outcomes we desire. For the most part we can do this within the familiar and comfortable fields of expertise and relationships of our everyday world.

However, when faced with the unfamiliar, difficult other people, career limiting choices and other threats, most of us are dealing with these issues in ways that are:

  • Self limiting
  • Reinforcing the very problems that we are trying to correct
  • Paradoxically deepening problem root cause and creating a feeling of progress

Our focus will be the transformation of how difficult situations are dealt with by changing behaviour, values and policies and sustained by learning. In this way we will examine the relationship between strategy, change and learning.

In our seminar we will:

  • Share perspectives on change and development and the utility of Double Loop learning (DLL)
  • Develop the case for different logical levels of change and problem solving
  • Use participant case studies to learn how each of us may be contributing to the very difficulties we are dealing with
  • Work with and test a seminar generated set of ideas and skills to learn and change
  • Provide many opportunities to learn these skills in real time as the seminar proceeds
  • Where appropriate provide examples of what happens when individuals and organisations begin to apply these skills in their own settings.

Each of us protects ourselves with a set of psychological and emotional defenses from the experience of threat. This leads to a set of behaviours that in spite of our rationalisations to the contrary:

  1. Perpetuate misunderstanding and ineffectiveness, even though to ourselves we act to increase understanding and effectiveness
  2. Cause us to blame others or the system for what we define as poor decisions
  3. Contribute to organisational inertia in the face of a pressing need for change
  4. Cover up or sanitise upward communication of difficult issues
  5. Builds contingency into budgets as part of corporate games
  6. Contribute to situations in which we act against our own self interest
  7. Create team processes where members have yet to learn how to deal with issues that are embarrassing or threatening.

Most people recognise the above phenomena and some say that life is just like that. This leads to such features of business life as normal, taken for granted or embedded below consciousness in the dominant culture. To take these phenomena for granted means that even though the list may be recognised, there is at some level an expectation that they will continue. If this is the case then people must be acting in ways that legitimate and maintain the phenomena. In effect, this means that managers and executives expect and participate in the creation and continuity of defensive reasoning that undermines their ability to deal effectively with the issues that their role demands they are responsible for.

For example, when executives agree that cost reduction is required, the implementation puts up cost as illustrated by this extract from the FT:

"Over the past three years some 30,000 people have been taken out of the business but costs haven't come down, they've gone up. Productivity has gone up 8 per cent but wages per full-time employee have gone up 19 per cent, so unit costs have also gone up."

There is a paradox in business life that the very actions that are designed to deliver business benefit also produce further problems and cost of failure.