PW&WCBA – James R. Lucas – How Worldwide Teams Merge Competing Ideas

James R. Lucas speaking on Think: How Worldwide Teams Merge Competing Ideas

“Working with people would be easy if it wasn’t for the people.”

Managing competing ideas:

Our teams have a group intelligence that is greater than the sum of the parts. We need good thinkers, multiplied!

A paradox is a seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true. Most people, in fact, believe that the two points of view to be contradictory or mutually exclusive, so they chose one position and discount the other (or avoid it completely). A paradox, however, is only an apparent contradiction, because both views actually are true (though incomplete without their twin).

A paradox is NOT a tradeoff. If we want more of one, we must be willing to take less of the other. Paradoxes are an optimizing game, we work to have more of both.

“Competing ideas are not a problem to be solved. Competing ideas are an opportunity to be exploited.”

The paradox management process:

  1. Embrace – determine to fully accept and live both sides of the paradox. Take more risk and eliminate risk
  2. Eliminate – Focus on identifying and ridding ourselves of weak, poor, and suboptimal ideas and actions on each side of the paradox. Centralize or de-centralize?
  3. Enhance – Focus on identifying and optimizing the good, value-add ideas and actions on each side of the paradox. Have war-rooms and party-rooms. Give people margin to think!
  4. Engage – Use innovation to consciously and systematically to merge the two sides of the paradox into a cohesive whole. Evaluate ideas.
  5. Explore – Challenge the status quo by identifying new actions that grow out of the merger of the two ideas. Be consistent and change everything.

In summary, James reveals to us the need to embrace the whole picture. Paradoxes shouldn’t be avoided, they should be embraced!

Why Agile Scout likes James R. Lucas’ talk:

Because James brought clarity around decision making. We cannot look at decisions from one side alone. We must look at the whole picture. What is interesting is that James tells us that it is OK to do things that are seemingly paradoxes. I would say that one needs to focus though. Focus on core competencies and do them with excellence.

Some big questions for thinking leaders:

  • Why is “either/or” thinking so dangerous? – Because only wholeness leads to clarity. You must look at both sides of a situation.
  • How can the power of paradox revolutionize our decision making and customer interface? – You have to both benchmark upon others and be confident in what your doing has value.
  • How can we turn these competing ideas into competitive advantage? – Know the entire story.

There are many different types of paradoxes:

  • Leadership – they will destroy your effectiveness if they are mismanaged
  • Culture – critical infrastructure that holds your organization together
  • Talent – manage from only one side of these paradoxes and doing everything else right wont’ really matter
  • Strategy – the heart of process and execution
  • Personal – be a movie star and a stage-hand, be an iron fist and a velvet glove

Find James’ slides below:

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