Harnessing the Power of Paradox
The very nature of business transformation is a paradox.
A fundamental principle of transformation and part of what makes transformation different than ‘change’ is that the polarization of mindset from current state to transformed state is so dramatic that the two ways of thinking are nearly impossible to consider together.
The Transformational Organization Paradigm uses the naturally occurring paradoxes in thinking, activity, and outcome as a source of forward propulsion for transformative work. At each level of the organization affected by transformative work paradoxes of intention, demand, skillset, goal and purpose exist. Identifying these as transformative work is approached and as they emerge over the course of the initiative is typically untapped success leverage. Leaders, operational staff and program and project team members will often be shocked into immobilization when confronted by paradoxical demands inherent in transformative work, or otherwise may have difficulty navigating the paradoxes and working through them. In doing so they ignore a powerful tool that may be used to move more deftly through ambiguity and uncertainty toward the transformed state.
Transformative paradoxes must be taken in as a whole rather than expressed in piecemeal by individual risk items or issue items or resistance items. And, the greatest forward motion a transformative effort can gain is through constantly encountering and resolving the highest friction point within the paradox.
The Transformational Organization maps the transformation paradoxes across the organizations formal and informal functions, groups, and teams as part of the transformation strategy work. And as each program, project, task force, work package and activity is approached the paradoxes inherent in moving from current state to transformed state are remapped at lower and lower levels.
The identification, mapping and navigation of paradoxes also forms a large part of specific change intelligence capabilities related to turning unacceptable unknowns/uncertainty into acceptable unknowns/uncertainty in the minds of executive, management and staff.
Navigating paradoxes is a skill that requires each leader and team member to confront the opposing directives, thinking, activity, outcome, assumptions, intention, demand, skillset, goal or purpose within the current context and ask questions like : What new truth are realizing at this point? What is real and harness-able at this moment that will move us forward? What can I think and do now that matters?
The image above represents the paradox that is the very nature of business transformation.