Tony Manning

Paradox lost?

Isaac Mostovicz writes...

Tony Manning, former head of the Institute of Directors in South Africa, points out the benefits of identifying and undestanding paradoxes as a means of creating competitive advantage.

He advises “Begin by listing the paradoxes you face right now. Then rank them according to the impact they have on your business. Finally, involve your team in thinking about how to embrace them, to “do this and that” at the same time.

For example:

* Making profits … but doing many things that eat into your ability to do it
* Driving value up … and costs down
* Being tough … and compassionate
* Being bold … and being careful
* Taking risks … and managing risks
* Continuity … and change
* Preserving what worked yesterday … and inventing what you need to do tomorrow
* Controlling costs … and investing boldly
* Innovation … and improvement
* Keeping a firm grip on things … and letting go
* Centralization … and decentralization
* Having a strong point of view … and allowing others to express their views

This can have a profound impact on your performance. For if you manage to get your arms around tricky paradoxes while your competitors are befuddled by them, you obviously gain the edge.

p. We could easily debate how many of these are genuine paradoxes, and how many merely require some semantic shuffling, but Tony is right about the power of paradox…

Working them through demands an effective analytical and transformation process. No paradox can be resolved in isolation from personal change.

The critical element is not to create false dichotomies, but to surface the genuine paradoxes that are stultifying progress, and focus on the counter-productive ‘coping’ behaviours which result from them.

The question is not about what you can do differently, but about how you can BE different…a constant learning cycle…

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