Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Paradox v. The Paradigm: Decision Making

The Paradox v. The Paradigm

One good definition of paradox arises from the discussion about decision making. It is the paradox where people say or do what they think others want them to say or want them to do. Thus, everyone (the group) ends up saying what no one believes or doing what no one wants to do. This accurately describes how we've been making decisions in the U.S. lately.

The next step in the paradox comes when we try to solve that problem by continuing to do what caused the problem in the first place.

I read about a consultant teaching groups how to avoid group-think. (Advising them to think outside the box and so on.) In the explanation of how this person leads people to avoid group-think and to think outside the box, this person rewards people for coming up with (very) different ideas.

You don't have to be seven years old to know that if you want positive reinforcement (reward) you tell people what they want to hear.

Thus, the leader (a consultant?) succeeded in shifting the paradigm. (Group members giving looney answers instead of constructive ones. Looney defined as more "out there" than conventional. Some call it, "being creative".) Thus, the consultant tries to eliminate group-think by enforcing and reinforcing group-think. (The group catches on very quickly--all begin making abstruse suggestions. At least to the extent that they do not focus on the problem at hand.)

The result of all this is that the process becomes more important than the goal.

"We must change the process so we can achieve our goal," is the mantra. The result, we never achieve our goal. Why not? This brings us back to square one. Because everyone seeks rewards by saying what they think others want to hear. Except for me. But no one listens to me anyway.

Sincerest regards,


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