We are our own worst enemy
How many times have you heard that? Indeed it true, we are our own worst enemy, especially when it comes to neglecting to think about or do certain things that we don’t want or like, somehow we almost instinctively steer away from that which we don’t like or want. However, it’s not always ideal, especially where its things we have to deal with, then simply avoiding them does not mean they don’t exist any more, or will go away, we have all I am sure practiced this behaviour, when we start using avoidance, or denial, then we are in fact just poisoning our mental well-being (or capacity).
Denial is the devil that distorts the detail
Denial is only one of dozens of our natural human biases actively working against us, granted, however it’s the strongest influencer on decision making, influencing and mostly poisoning our critical thinking, thus keeping us from truth, truth it is said is the highest form of thinking. Denial is so dangerous, because it is progressive, the more we practice it, the more it snowballs, and becomes an ideology .
Any thinking that has denial built into it, and then also complimented with bias, will back fire at some point, it’s like drinking poison, and hoping someone else will die. It’s called the “back fire” effect, at some turn, or time you will have to entertain all you have denied, or excused because of bias.
I am sure you have heard people saying, that “oh that’s so going to back fire”… “Because he just won’t listen”.
This tends to happen when we are in the thick of things – then we get tied up in the rush… – and so do we close our awareness to others and their inputs, because we are in a group, we change our awareness state. Our group mentality is mostly casual, the happy go lucky type of attitude. opposed and other than the individual mentality, where we think and analyse things alone, that is much more aware, alert, focused, in tune with things, and all that is going on. we have to become aware of how the mind performs under differing and changing circumstances… a type of mental orientation is required
This aspect translates into how we engage in group think, and also deal with attributes of culture. So that if and when you have one or more people in the group, with strong personalities, that you realise that they could stonewall all the progress, or derail a lot of good will, and steal ideas, and so forth, just because they are denial practitioners. Alternatively if they have been briefed beforehand, they could assist in selling a new concept…
Life is all about getting those mental wheels turning in the right direction – orienting minds towards the objective – and then only do things come to a natural conclusion. If not, the whole thing seizes up…
Same with strategy formulation —along with excessive optimism and overconfidence, we are just programmed to fail ourselves, because of our denial and bias complex, supercharged with perception. How we perceive is the way we live, and think, that translates into what we do and say. Why? …why are we so “stupid” or why are we so stubborn at times? Is only explained when we see why we justify our own denial and bias through a different lens. so keep an open mind from this point forward…
Subconsciously we are all programmed to take the easy route; the path of least resistance; to make snappy decisions and take short-cuts – even with strategy, however, this is not advised – this aspect directly affects our strategic decision making perception and metal machinery. We are all essentially programmed to be lazy as hell. so lets look at the definition of the two great evils that exist;
Understanding the definitions;
Denial: Denial acts as a justification mechanism in which a person either unconsciously or consciously rejects specific thoughts, ideas, realities, feelings, needs, wishes, or external truths that they would rather not deal with, or would rather avoid doing. Denial functions mainly to protect the ego – yes it’s an exercise in foolishness that stem from things that the individual cannot/ or will not cope with or stands indifferent to – this includes laziness. Because of this, other defences like bias- are also used to strengthen this resolve with, keeping it from becoming consciousness – or ultimately a truth or reality.
Bias; Bias arises from various mental, social, taught processes that are sometimes difficult to distinguish or even explain on the surface, as it is unique to each individuals character. However there are always clear and established indicators that a bias has formed, it becomes observable as a pattern or it starts producing a certain distinguishable reaction or result. These processes include a tendency to be prone to solving problems with only short cuts – laziness, half-hearted effort. Then also personal motivational factors drive bias, to become self-destructive,(obesity, drug addict, alcoholic, obsessive compulsive, and “troublemaking”, all very self-serving, that could become a disruptive or drastic social influence – bullies, racists, sexists, extremists, or just plain disruptive etc. Biases translate and manifest in many forms, and fashions; including the mental state, forming of; errors in judgement skewed views of reality, revolutionary ideas, thinking in contrast with the norm. Bias too, becomes progressive, indicating a prejudice that only leads to more of same if entertained, especially by others, that in turn blocks the alternative reality, both good and bad.
Then we have a mental proses
Yet very few corporate strategists (making some very important – sometimes life altering or even threatening decisions daily), rarely admit, or have even recognize the importance of having sober (bias and denial free) cognitive reasoning (relating to the process of acquiring facts, through the use of knowledge by using critical reasoning, intuition, or perception, thus consciously taking into account our pre imposed tendencies to deviate from rational reasoning) because of denial and bias.
“What you think about you create more off”, “what you think about comes about”, “energy goes where attention flows…” life is full of these statements of truth, that relate to the power of thinking, thinking being the catalyst to bias, prejudice, perception, focus, all things relating to creating, and creation as the final step…very powerful stuff, thinking, and we don’t always give it enough thought?
It’s easy to see why: unlike in fields such as finance and marketing, where executives can and will freely use psychology to make the most of their business assumptions, because it works, opposed to the strategic decision maker, who needs to recognize their own biases first, and foremost, however, strategy makers has always been far removed from psychology, therefore very clinical and systematic in its general approach, it is only of late that these faculties (psychology and strategy) have merged in some respects, for if they don’t, then this principle won’t be important enough to them both, to be filtered into strategic reasoning. In other words if you don’t see the relevance, then you won’t connect the dots, and make the integration of the two work for you. Then you become the case study guy, the one in denial, and living with a set bias, that is anti-integration…of anything but text book. Their needs to be a greater awareness of sociological attributes that boost strategic initiatives…
Growing the awareness of incorporating the sociological aspects
So despite numerous attempts at growing this awareness in the past, with the likes of that of behavioural shaping and strategic integration work, with critical thinking, as well as its impact on strategy, and the psychological benefits to society, and business, by incorporating these sociological approaches, and numerous efforts by management book writers, present company included, only one book really succeeded, The ART OF WAR -Sun Tzu – to make the case for sociological strategy integration, most executives have as yet to shout out to the world, IT WORKS!!! and there is more…
Justifiably a lot more difficult times lie before us, until the light goes on, and the dots are connected, knowing how to harness its power is still a case by case study, in “fluidity thinking”, because they only have their MBA as background, that does not deal with socio-economics or sociological aspects as a norm.
Mintzberg’s observation, signalled a point of active change, concerning various strategic management literature; when he remarked that “all kinds of fields make important contributions to our understanding of the concept of strategy and its process, should be noted with concern” – for many stubbornly overlook any other form, and dismiss it, from that which they were schooled in…
Someone once said; “it is very tempting if you have a hammer, to treat everything you come across, as if nails”. If only life was that simple. What this implies is, one size does not fit all, there is no just this way, or that way to solve all social, and or any other cultural problems with that supports society with just one single remedy to all our problems, wrapped up as a conclusive strategy.
Okay, so what’s the way forward?
It’s not that simple either or even clear, as strategy is widely used and differs in its application, and so to the influence of sociology. We have to find the principles and use them rather. All this was created from the beginning of time; and is because of our divergent social make-up, our needs, beliefs, thinking, wants and bias – have complicated the plot.
Starting with our upbringing – our social class, has something to do with it too, some believe it influences our mental make-up; and will directly impact on our ability to plan strategic and lead…others
Different social classes do think differently, oh yes, the research is in; apparently as their basic needs differ, so do their social needs, and this has a knock-on effect that bleeds into the forming of/ eradicating of bias, perception, and thinking styles – Maslow stated this in his research. With his pyramid of needs. This translated into – so the higher the story you live on the better your view – in life as well, the more you rise to the top, the wider you perceptions get influenced, and the better you get at making decisions, just like in real life, those that live on the 20th story have the greatest view, opposed to those that live in the basement… or at least that is how it is suppose to work, with sociology the higher your aptitude, the higher your mental altitude, the more brilliant your cognitive views are that informs your perceptions…
This is the age old Nature vs. Nurture debates all over today. Some philosophers such as Plato and Descartes also suggested that certain things are inborn, as well as our class (DNA – genetically transferred) or that they simply occur naturally regardless of environmental influences. Then some are learned, through the interaction with the immediate environment, and the things and people in it.
The point to make now, is this; we know there are connection, or relationships that exist between the calibre of person, or persons designing and executing strategy, that enhance the quality of strategy as a direct result, we still don’t know with the utmost of certainty exactly where or how this works, with relation to mental aspects – like thinking.
Now with thinking, we do not all see the trees from the forest. The one thing, necessary is to create an understanding of – things that influence thinking, and in turn strategy – for a lack of a better word, to describe human interaction better with. In order to do this one thing, we need to understand a few others first.
What we need to do first is to create a greater awareness of the self, and how to develop the ego, or character of young minds, some believe, that because of the way our children think of themselves and perceive their world and their purpose; it will translate in their bias, and denial becoming balanced. Self-image is the one aspect that only education can enhance, and then physical one-on-one social interaction can develop. Not sport. We are talking about our innate ability to communicate and reason with each other. To get something; without paying for it, taking it with force, to resolve conflict, to establish trade…requires the soft skills of reasoning – like persuasion.
The younger generation’s new way of interacting, especially today, through the abundance of social media, BBM, IPhone’s, PC, and other electronic devices have stonewalled and impair this.
That they have developed stand off practises in their communication is for real. None confrontational, in every way, the; himself, herself, myself, and the self. Does not get to developed much in this fashion, for there is no friction, personal interaction, touch and smell, it’s all part of established norms of communication, thinking, and reasoning. Not to mention, how it develops, and forms the basis of our social skills.
Intuition, the silent spirit of strategic communication
This moves us on to intuition. One cannot build rapport with people, if you are not getting into their “feel”, there being, their psyche – the psyche is the totality of the human mind, both conscious, and unconscious, the place where thoughts and ideas originate. Ideas are not forthcoming if intuition is not at full volume. Intuition is anchored in Ideas, forms and models, everything you do, and everything you say, connects something with something else for people. Therefore, everything you don’t do, and everything you don’t say, also communicates something too. Both verbal and none verbal queues generate emotion, feelings, ideas, concepts, perception, reason, and it never stops. Communication is always better, and more effective if you can do it in person. Nothing beats the one on one contact between people.
Effective leaders understand this principle – “the hands on” – it literally means or implies in touch with people, both physically and emotionally, in their space, feeling their energy. To tap into their intuition – with strategic thinking more emphasis is put on intuition than analysis…so this proves that we need deep rooted connections with people.
Even research have sighted our ability to achieve results with people is directly linked from our direct rapports with them – to generate engagement, to motivate, to get our team headed in the right direction – this aspect often succeeds or fails on the bases of our own ability to communicate well, both directly and indirectly, and most importantly, it pivots on the strength we have in rapport with people – our interpersonal connections with them.
The reason why we need this aspect strong, is networking is easy, however building trust is not…especially in times when scarcity of resources could spell global War. Then our future leaders need to be mentally far more superior – especially in their understanding of human nature, and the way we connect, far more superior insight will be required than what we have now, intellectually stable, bias and denial free, calculating and critical thinking, all the requirements to be perfectly strategically minded.
From them we will expect efficient and effective, as well as sustainable and renewable strategy. Only time will tell if this self-fulfilling prophesy will come true. The Communist countries and North – East Asia has been systematically spending more and more on education each year.
Are we not now cutting it out of the equation by just promoting social electronic media? By not incorporating social studies at school, that relate to how to communicate, and socialise better, how to reason, and how to be self-aware and self-actualising – living more social.
Our Children’s self-development is stifled, by not focusing them on discipline; especially self-discipline, they have all adopted this victim mentality, they need to find themselves first, and living in denial attitudes. Money motivates them, nothing else well then we need to use it, also for attaining the best grades possible and becoming socially active in debate – in the physical on the street, in person style – to make them more and more comfortable and liked.
For only if we find our purpose do we find our value, – how can anyone find his pack status if the pack never meets one on one, our passion then grows from this foundation – closeness. Sparking passion in people is by design, be it social, sport, relaxation, or activity, song, dance, etc. Intrinsic (deep down), or otherwise – we long for the groups acceptance and status, for most, others just naturally have it, or get it, they display this know-how to mingle and communicate effortlessly, and now we only need the rest to also rise to the occasion.
We are actively promoting the design of a none strategic society… The physical era has come to an end; the moral era is dawning…time to change our tactics too?
We are becoming less formal and more social in our exchanges
We have become more intuitive, when thinking strategy, relying on the group, and its knowledge to make decisions with. This Insight serves as an explanation for many miss aligned strategies and the formulation of other sound ones’, based on strategic advice that may only be sought in sociology, psychology, political science, socio-economics, and no longer just in case study, and systematic approaches…
The face and formula of strategy making is altering
The one way – and there are several – is to recover the meaning of things in strategy formulation, this new generation of leaders seek meaning, a purpose in what they do, life, living, religion, faith and whatever occupies their mind – all has to bring value, they are less interested in how, and more in why?. This is the general belief that the human physique is actively returning to what can only be explained as active “enlightenment”, seeking the greater mental aspects. We are thinking green today, and so too this will infiltrate the greater mental picture of society as a whole.
Until some worthiness of life emerges, that inner voice starts challenging and talking to you, to do this through experiences, finding the time, taking the test, driving the distance, walking that mile…its all down and back to effort and sacrifice first – that gets rewarded. To get those impulsive and creative voices from within, just like juices flowing, by entertaining things worthwhile of our attention, and notice, and no longer detrimental. Free from bad bias and living in denial.
People today tend to prefer things that are easy to think about, do, read, and understand, rather than things that are difficult.
This one aspect really stonewalls us. This feeling of ease or difficulty is known as cognitive fluency. Cognitive fluency refers to the subjective – that very personal state – of experience and existence, sourcing degrees of doing things with either ease or difficulty, of completing certain mental tasks required, before we proceed with action. The objective state is the academic way of doing it that relates to specifics. The subjective state relates to a mental process of observation, orientation, decision and then act…
If you want people to adopt new behaviours or perceive something new as being easy, or easier, then it’s important to consider how the information about the new thing appears to them. And then how to bring that about; presentation is 1/3 the winning distance, the other two thirds is the presenter… and networking. (Again my point – if not for the former we cannot have the latter – if we don’t eradicate denial, and bad bias, and then grow socially our leaders ability, then we cannot expect to connect them with the strategic process that are becoming all socially driven)
Next, mentally there are also a series of traps that people tend to fall into, when being sold something new, or told, we cannot wait for all the facts to be in before reaching strategic decisions. We are way to undisciplined, and programmed with instant gratification. We need to change that now – as strategist, some of our decision will or could have far reaching consequence in the future, so we need to measure twice now, so that we only have to cut once. .
Mentally this is the trap, how do you relinquish all we have used and known, for a new way without testing it first. So what do we do, do we jump to a forgone conclusion – a bias, and make a decision, by making a call. It is the other side of the fact-based bias. Where we wait for the facts, get impatient and cut-through it and make a decision. Timing is everything, the mood we are in, the temperature of the room, the smell, scent, set-up situation, and personality types at play, all play a role, in how we first perceive things, so it’s true; “first impressions do count”.
To highlight the required change, even Spencer wrote that war was the prime mechanism of evolution among societies. (For they could not communicate their intentions, without bias, and denial interfering.) So any-time we differ we create friction, same as war. Those societies that could effectively communicate and fight wars survived and flourished while those that could not, perished. If anything, those with the better education and social systems have survived countless wars, drought, disasters, disease, and even economic slumps. education builds strategy and competence…
Boyd found reference to the idea that between action and human will (psyche) there exists an intimate connection, having a good self image transcend into our strategic make-up, that makes us good leaders of people too. As Fuller stated: action without will loses coordination; without a directing, strategic brain in any army, it is just reduced to a mob. The fighting power of an army lies in its ability to organize itself, so that it has the initiative and keeps it. Will power is either built up or broken down, by external and both internal factors. Will power, which can be destroyed either by wearing it down with denial and bias, thus mentally, or by rendering inoperative this power of command – getting strategies to fail, strategy in its totality is all an exercise in “brain warfare”. the one with the smartest strategic leaders will win the war without firing one shot – this is possible, and we have many examples in history. Central to his argument is the notion that mental paralysis of the youth should be the aim – to circumvent any future war, in war if there is no leading brain, there is no army, and then the mental and moral dimensions should be the prime target of a military operation. So if we look around, our children have been mentally numbed and morally corrupted, so who is waging (mental) war against us?
A few lessons there from war to take to hart, the ultimate strategy in War is to corrupt the will to fight, it is going over into action with “brain warfare”. It’s a game of survival, Outwit, Outplay, Outlast…survive
Once the how’s become clear, things become easier.
The – Speed and accuracy of decision making; depends greatly on the tempo of the work, variety of actions in pursuit of the objective, socio-economics – social en economic factors, compounded by other factors that cause friction, that slows us down; that morally corrupts and mentally disables us, its aim is to slow us down to stagnation, by targeting our level of trust and co-operation between people, level of initiative and risk taking, as well as the effective movement and utilisation of resources, and lastly, the moral and mental dimensions of thinking without denial and bias. This is called patters of conflict…
Patterns of Conflict and friction; can be avoided with good PASSION.
P – Preparation
A – Assumption testing and verification of all business factors
S – being fully aware of Socio-economic factors prevailing
S – Practising Sociology and taking the sociological approach with strategy
I – Good business intelligence and critical thinking, as management and planning tools
O – Guard against Over Optimism and delusions of grandeur can be eradicated with denial and bias sampling
N – Neglect and conformity; most strategies get neglected after or past 5 years, planning and management for repair and maintenance, and implementation of policy and procedure, to keep this from happening.
The nine elements that affects the speed of strategic decision-making today;
- Grass root command and control; first line supervisors, are they properly, trained, equipped, do they ten have capacity and capability? This is the test, it takes this many factors to be inclusive, to make a good foot print, and have impact. Sacrifice on one, and everything else suffer as a result. (Their Control span over business processes; and how much room do seniors allow for initiative and risk taking equals –error margins. The bigger the control span, the more aggressive their influence… the less sociological we become, and the more systematic our controls.
- Rewarding the personal touch – Personal commitment to task, is rare. People don’t normally have the confidence to lead, manage or act on the task at hand. They need to be built, encouraged and taught. If not prompted or tasked properly, the norm is to idle along. Change in attitude, and a willingness to lead takes a personal touch. This creates focus that generates potential; boosted with energy and vigour. It is the perfect antidote to procrastination. It starts with a vision, that they need to expand on, then a mission, that they need to lead, they need to be allowed to make mistakes, and command people, then goal setting, getting your personal house and business in order is a good way to learn, and implement the same at work, then going over to action, this requires skills, observation, orientation and then act. However, in truth, this is no fail safe.
- Instructive leadership is needed when competence is low and commitment is high. Failure to train, is training to fail…
- In contrast, supportive leadership is desirable when the individual knows how to perform the task (high competence), totally repetitive and or automated jobs, but is bored or unmotivated (low on commitment). This is normally due to innovation stifling. People are not allowed to bleed their own lifeblood – ideas, concepts, principles – into their work. Give them an outlet… social get-together, competitions etc. When people know what to do and are self-accountable, they have high competence and high commitment and don’t require direction or support. In this situation, an effective leader just delegates work and monitors the progress.
- Harnessing the passion of the individual. All social movements are founded on this principle, – passion – guided by, and motivated by the individuals in such a group to willingly sacrifice because they believe in the cause. Passion without sacrifice is just not passion; sacrifice leads to greater conviction, and in turn generates the required willpower…rendering the ultimate state of living, living with a will.(a life with purpose). Harness this attribute for the strategic good.
- Status equals worth; where the individuals pay level in the organisation effects self-esteem and performance. One of the strongest determinants of employee attitudes, motivation and behaviours is compensation. It also determines the level of engagement allowed, in strategic decision making normally. Over time, this may signal that some employees are less valued and less worthwhile to the strategic process of the organization. Then they tend to become negative, and counter-productive.
- The amount of support given by senior management builds strength of conviction, purpose and passion in; aligning people with the department and organisations vision and mission, structuring of communication – so that everyone is in the loop -, organizing and participating in lower level decision making, and involving juniors, caring about the outcome, by following the process and progress.
- Any autocratic control and/ or behaviour will almost certainly always result in a perception of control only, which inhibit the speed of strategic decision-making at all levels below it, even bottlenecking the process, and barring everyone else from decision making, thus from creative thinking too. At times this will be necessary to get back on track again. However, it could count in your favour, if you know that creativity spawns in silence best…so mix it up, take away the autocrat when up to speed, and then see what spans, from this period where no one was allowed to speak their mind…
- Risk assessments only, are very poor and inadequate ways for designing proper contingency factors. Mitigation is a cradle to grave strategy on its own, as you design, so you must mitigate too.
- Fluency or rapidity is at work any time we are in a situation where we weigh options with the use of information.
- Familiarity is a very strong motivator of human behaviour. We favour routine. In general, people like things that are familiar to them because they don’t require as much mental work and processing, are less stressing, as opposed to things that are new and different. Familiarity breeds content.
The promotion of self-actualisation, which builds leadership, resides in developing of specific elements of character. Implying the specific development of
- Initiative taking; taking calculated risk, making decisions without consultation, taking responsibility, and accountability. Subordinates must be able to act on their own accord, and independently. Within the framework of an overall plan, or strategy
- Mental agility, the ability to see, and or predict a certain outcome even before it transpires with a great amount of precision. Also to make and alter plan on the move…
- Depth of conviction; having people with great social skills, that actively promote passion, and unity of effort, that does what they do with conviction, as they have the power to command and control, the strength of conviction, in the self and their ability to do what they do well.
- and synchronization of mind sets; where we are all fixed on collectively and simultaneously achieve the goals set in pursuit of the main objective.
No business strategy is an exact science, neither is sociology, they are two tools, approaching one situation from opposing sides, the art of strategy is in fact an evolving one, as science itself seems to be growing out of proportion itself lately, it gives us more tools, as our knowledge base expands, so do our insights, and advancements, assisted by technology and other advances. The theory and science of strategy should too, to become an art.
With strategy, entire attributes filter into our mental make-up, and shakes at our convictions, what we know, what we understand, what we believe, – all our bias, and perceptions, are challenge. Only through cultivating a critical mind-set, will our adaptation keep in step with the evolution of ideas on change, and all its attributes.
Everything informs everything else, which logically follows, but just in different ways today. As man, his habitat, his strategic landscape, and his advancements change, so should our understanding of it too change in step and the logic we use, to understand that very concept – for understanding us – we need to keep improvising, adapting all in order to overcome.
Only by consciously choosing to express our creative energy in a positive, life-affirming way, do we live a fulfilled life, full of passion and joy, as we will it.
Strategic academic thinking is fundamentally related to the issue of seeking rationality or making sense of things and facts. Research in this regard has shown that human responses deviate from the performance deemed normative, according to various models of decision-making and rational prescribed for strategic thinking and formulation, because we all tend to apply our own judgement – bias – and then plot the path of least chaos and resistance to form some rational for us first, with our own path ways.
People like thinking with their own minds. This gap between the normative academic and systematic approach to finding strategic rational, should be avoided according to study, “to each his own”. Innovation, in mind mapping the strategic landscape comes from tapping into the sociological side first, understating how people do things traditionally, and then applying those principles, we need to guide people to rational thinking with queues, with acronyms, and lots of social stimulation, back into the think-tank.
The academic descriptive way of trying to make sense of strategy with case study’s, has lost appeal, for several reasons; it breaks the entrepreneurial and creative spirit in people, leave’s them innovation less and it can be interpreted as indicating systematic biases of our human former understanding of strategy as only systematic, or procedural, lacking the attributes of creativity, and innovation – so now the old way is working against us.
Read more on my blog; or Read the book or Ebook; Read more in my new book Strategic Management, The Radical Revolutionary Strategic Management Matrix for Predators by Reinier Geel, now available at these stores