Right now, in your current situation, you are asked to or informed to, undertake or perform certain actions. When these instructions and activities align with your natural instinct it is easy. When there is a lack of alignment we know that there are tensions, contradictions, conflicts and compromises created. Often these creep up on us, where one small thing leads to another until the snowball is in full avalanche mode.
When you feel that comfort blanket of alignment, you should use the peak paradox framework to look for paradoxes, because you are aligned. It does not mean everyone is aligned or you are doing the right thing, but it feels easy. The sense of natural alignment is a conformational bias that is hard to fight, but it is time to focus on where paradoxes can exist.
When that comfort blanket is missing and we are in the open white waters of turmoil, the Peak Pardox framework is designated to unpack where and from who and what decision means you feel destructive tensions, unresolvable conflicts and compromised.
The framework will help us make (better) choices, decisions and judgement to resolve those stresses, either by moving/ “walking” to a different place or through communication and understanding. It provides a passage where you can find a place to live with tensions we understand, conflicts we can manage and compromises we are prepared to live with. The framework will not eradicate anything, it helps us explain and unpack; as we all face the same paradoxes with our own perceptions.
The Importance of Tension
Creative tension, along with pressure created from constraints and “healthy” stress as we aim for our Northstar enables us to perform (better). Indeed creative tension in the boardroom is healthy and leads to wider considerations, that improve decision-making leading to better outcomes. A lack of creative tension, say as a result of too much power, compliance or consensus; creates conflicts, unhelpful tension, stress and individual compromises; which all lead to poor outcomes.
Finding the right balance is in part about leadership but also governance, oversight and the role of a chairperson. As explored in previous posts, decisions at peak paradox are never good, because everyone has compromised and there is a lack of leadership. It is because of this that “direction” is critical to find that place where we can align on decisions but equally have tension to ensure we are doing the right things, but don’t have to go back to basics at every meeting.
This is a super article on “How the Afterglow of Victory Boosts Future Performance” by Miguel Sousa Lobo, INSEAD Associate Professor of Decision Sciences. August 2, 2021. The takeaway is that when we perform well together, we feel less tense with each other, and when we feel less tense with each other, we perform better. Alignment works but we have to also look for the paradox or we will find ourselves in the comfort blanket of self-confirmation. Keeping creative tension alive is hard as we are trying to find the balance between conflict and denial.
Where does Peak Paradox fit into the strategic planning cycle?
Probably when there is either too much conflict or when there is not enough!