In my first post I described the following model as containing the essential three elements that must be in place in organisations for successful strategy execution to take place:
In subsequent posts I have touched on Protection, Direction and Structure. I also said that based on six years of deliberate practice since I first wrote this down there was a further element I would add – this is reality checking/ongoing support.
I believe this is important because of two phenomena that I have observed consistently in organisations over the last forty years – the ability to resist change, and the ability to construct defences to avoid facing changing realities which challenge our view of the world.
Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey of Harvard University have been collaborating on research in this area for many years. The ability of people to resist change is nowhere more vividly illustrated than in Kegan and Lahey’s book Immunity to Change where they cite a study showing that only one in seven heart patients told they are likely to die if they don’t change their habits actually do so despite good intentions and clear motivations! Thankfully Kegan and Lahey offer deep insight into why this is so, and some key methods for individuals and organisations to improve on this ratio.
Failure to face reality is also a well-documented phenomenon in psychoanalytic theory. Defence mechanisms are psychological strategies used by the unconscious mind to manipulate, deny, or distort reality to protect against feelings of anxiety and personally unacceptable realities. They include rationalisation, repression, distortion and denial amongst others.
How do these things play out in organisations? On a small scale I have seen project status reported as on track when it clearly wasn’t, on a grand scale I have seen the whole business model of an organisation being questionable for the long term but those questions being avoided and everyone just carrying on with the previous plan.
All mentally healthy individuals use defence mechanisms regularly. The fact that these strategies are implemented unconsciously makes them particularly insidious in organisations where it is often not recognised that facing into important emerging realities is being avoided.
At Team Excelerator we build long term trusting relationships that allow us to act as a truth teller for organisations, supporting long term transformational change at individual and team level.
Creating the Conditions for Success – allowing you to Get Results.Fast.
In the meantime, we’d be delighted to talk. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org