Questions to help frame your own paradoxes!

Questions to help frame your own paradoxes

Leadership must be able to recognise the paradoxes created as they decide on “what they are optimising for.” The last article described two different starting points for the Peak Paradox model; finding paradox and living with paradox

It is evident that the compromises we elect to live with become more focused as we agreed or decide on what we are optimising for.  Such a focus has a benefit insomuch that the narrower and more articulate our view of optimised becomes, the more decisions can become aligned. However, the counter is that whilst a sharp focus and alignment will require less compromise for some, but it will equally increase the paradoxes/ compromises and tensions others will have to live with.  One team can be aligned to a vision but not necessarily on how to get there or live with the chosen “optimised” approach.  Stress is created by these differences and can create cracks and weaknesses in the team and culture. One vision, one culture, one team is very naive in any team more extensive than one.  

Sufficient dwell or thinking time is often not afforded to executive and leadership teams. Indeed board agendas are so packed and time so restricted there is little opportunity to debate or descent. The consequence of this reality is that insufficient time is allowed to consider the impacts of your optimising choices on others.  Therefore over the next few posts, I will offer questions at different levels as per the decision model (below.)  This is a link to a longer article on choices, decisions, and judgment as it frames; “are we asking the right questions?”   

The outer yellow ring is the focus of this article. Below are five questions per “Peak” that should help facilitate a conversation to maximise benefits within this space or improve understanding of the compromises other will have to make to come to your peak. 

As a reminder of what the peaks represent.  The original detailed definitions of each peak are here. 

Peak Individual Purpose.   At the exclusion of anything else, you are only interested in yourself.  Selflessness at the extreme.  You believe that you are sovereign (not having to ask anyone for permission or forgiveness), your voice and everything you say matters and everyone should agree. You are all-powerful and can do whatever you want and have the freedom and agency to do it.  

Peak Work Purpose.  At the exclusion of anything else, the only reason to work is to deliver as much possible value to the shareholders.  Employees, customers, the environment does not matter in terms of exploitation.  The purpose is to be the biggest and most efficient beast on the planet and able to deliver enormous returns; Shareholder Primacy at its most pure. Simple, clear, no conflict and no compromise, even to the point that rewarding the staff beyond fair would be a compromise.  Compliance is met with the minimal standard ensuring that nothing is wasted.  (note: it is not the reason an individual works, but a company works)

Peak Society Purpose.  At the exclusion of anything else, we have to deliver and ensure there is no suffering and poverty for any living thing. Humans must have equal education, health and safety.  There must be total transparency and equality.  Everything is equally shared, and on-one has more power, agency or influence than anyone else.  

Peak Human Purpose.  At the exclusion of anything else, we are here to escape death which we do by reproducing as much as we can with the broadest community we can.  We also have to adapt as fast as possible.  We have to meet our chemistry requirements to stay alive for as long as possible to adopt and reproduce at the expense of anything else.  Whilst all the peak purposes might be controversial (even to myself), saying purity of human purpose in chemistry/ biology might not go down very well. However, this is a model for framing thinking, so please go with it as it needs to be pure, and every other human purpose has conflicts with someone.

How would you answer these questions?

It should be evident that these questions try to frame you towards a natural one peak, but even at this level, you will have noticed that whilst you will align more to one peak than the others, but that you are full of paradoxes.  Ask different questions, you will align to a different north star.