Obstacles to True Consensus – The Dominant Impatient Visionary
In my previous post I describes the necessary condition for successfully approaching a shift away from a company based on local optima (a.k.a. the Analytic-minded organisation) to one based on a holistic view of business (a.k.a. the Synergistic-minded organisation). Goldratt refers to this necessary condition as a “True Consensus” at the top of the company (along with a subsequent smooth spread of that holistic top-level consensus, without resistance and without fighting).
But how to reach such a true consensus? It can look like an impossibility, due to a very common set of obstacles.
In a series of posts I’ll run through describing these obstacles, along with some options for minimising or even removing each of them in turn. In a nutshell, the real obstacles to True Consensus are the behaviours of key people.
In line with our belief that “People are Good”, we might choose to note that the behaviours we’re discussing are NOT dysfunctional behaviours, but the outstanding, positive behaviours, the virtues, that have taken the company to the successful place it occupies today.
The First of Five
So, what are the real obstacles (barriers) preventing a True Consensus? And how to overcome them, systematically, in a way that’s widely applicable across many companies, and minimising the risk of running into brick walls along the way?
There are five obstacles I’d like to explore. This post begins with just one; the Dominant Impatient Visionary.
Obstacle: The Dominant Impatient Visionary
This kind of person drives their company forward to success. They have been, and remain, the engine of the company. Explaining an idea to this kind of person, though, we generally get just a minute or two of their attention before they start to chew us up, to attack or dismiss our idea. Even though this kind of person is so important for the progress of the company, they are also deadly poison for consensus. Their use of positional power and charisma kills any chance of consensus. And god forbid we try to get rid of people like this. On the other hand, these folks are very smart. They do realise that the biggest stumbling block in moving the company forward is their own impatience. Nevertheless they look like they can’t control their toxic behaviour. How is this?
Here’s what happening: their impatience is probably imbedded in the fact that this person has the stamina to shoot for a very high vision for the company. At the bottom of any idea there is a core problem, and the core problem is based in some kind of conflict. This person has unconsciously conditioned himself to look at just one side of any core conflict. Because he’s trying to avoid taking the “hit” to his stamina that will inevitable arise if he spends any time looking at the other side of the core conflict. He has unconsciously blinded himself to the other side of any core conflict.
As soon as anyone presenting a new idea mentions the other side of a core conflict, his impatience kicks in, and this nice pussycat becomes a tiger. This is what always happens.
But there is a way to channel this person’s phenomenal vision, ability and stamina into a direction that helps consensus:
Remediation: Focus on the Benefits of Identifying and Removing the Flawed Assumption
For any idea, we analyse it and show the core conflict explicitly. We show both sides of the core conflict. And then we say that despite the conflict, we’re NOT going to lower our expectations, or lower the vision. We’re not going to compromise. What we ARE going to do is find and remove the flawed assumption.
And when the flawed assumption is found and removed, we’re shooting even HIGHER than before. Amazingly, we can show how the side of the conflict he habitually ignores – where he intuitively avoids looking – contains the flawed assumption.
The minute we find and remove the flawed assumption, then everybody can get behind the idea. The smart person can soon spot this pattern, in maybe as little as three or four instances of highlighting the flawed assumption. And the pattern is: “I’m not afraid any more that by looking on the other side I will reduce my ambitions, or that I will lose my stamina. I’m looking on the other side for only one purpose: to find and remove the flawed assumption.”
Next time: The Smart Conservative – another obstacle to True Consensus explored.
Beyond the Goal ~ Eliyahu M. Goldratt (Audiobook only)