We live in a paradoxical world. Rates of change are increasing, yet we want certainty. Times to market are reducing, yet we still want instant gratification. Zafer Achi and Jennifer Garvey Berger explored these paradoxes recently. They acknowledged that searches for certainty are "only natural", and that managers spend much of their time "managing the probable". However, the world is a social place. People make choices and things change, often unexpectedly. Consequently, the best laid plans can fail completely, leaving managers exposed and potentially out of a job. Achi and Berger suggest that the frame of reference used by most managers, of managing the probable, is a big part of the problem. Rather than managing the probable, they suggest that managers need to "lead the possible". They offered three recommendations to help managers make the change (see article for details):
These recommendations have the potential to change the way managers think, make decisions and lead. While reading the article, I couldn't help but think that the recommendations also have application in the boardroom. However, the adoption of 'possibility' thinking would up-end board practices in many cases. Boards that spend most of their time monitoring past performance and controlling the activities of the chief executive would probably be quite uncomfortable, even though the recommendations are neither earth-shattering nor inconsistent with the role and responsibility of the board (to maximise performance in accordance with the wishes of shareholders). Maybe its time for directors to take stock.
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and the craft of board work; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.