Edited Founder Session Presentation Part B
made by Dr. Ichak Adizes at the 29th Annual Adizes Convention Palic, Serbia, July 6, 2007
Editor: Last month the Insight covered the following material of the presentation. Here is a summary:
A lifecycle can be impacted by people with conscience. We can make our life longer or shorter. Conscience is what makes us human. Rocks, trees animals have a lifecycle but they do not have conscience.
Conscience is a code one needs to decode but once one does it, one makes choices and those choices can prolong or shorten a systems lifecycle whether it is a person, a marriage, an organization or the world we live in.
In order to have conscience one needs to be conscious. Conscious means one has to know and understand the repercussions of the actions one takes. It is more than just being aware. Awareness means knowing. Consciousness means understanding; and having a conscience means acting because the conscience will not leave us alone till we act.
All problems stem from disintegration which is caused by change. The solution to all problems is thus integration – and not fusion. The integration of differences is achieved with MT&R. Without MT&R, change is destructive. We need to be conscious of that. And we need to listen to our conscience: are we handling change with MT&R or not?
MT&R should be implemented in personal, and family life, in organizations, in society and on the “space ship earth. “ How? (This is covered now in the second half of the presentation, below.)
Let us, then, attempt to discuss how to implement MT&R at different levels of analysis. We already know how to apply it to organizations. At Adizes, we have taught it and practiced it now for thirty years worldwide. What can we learn from our experience applying MT&R in organizations that can be applied on a personal, family, social, and international level – and eventually to our “mother ship,” Earth? (We should be looking at space, too: we are already polluting space. But let’s stop with Earth; that is enough of a challenge.) Let’s be careful, though. What applies to one level of analysis does not necessarily apply to a higher or lower level of analysis. (I thank Carlos Valdesuso for making this point to me.)
What does MT&R mean on a personal level? The rule appears to be: if the choice you make increases your self-respect, do it; if it decreases your self-respect, don’t do it. If it increases your self-trust, do it; if it decreases your self-trust, don’t do it.
How should we define self-respect?
First, let us discuss what is respect and what is mutual respect?
According to Immanuel Kant, respect means that you recognize the undeniable right (i.e., sovereignty) of the other person to think differently. We are not promoting fusion, sameness. We are seeking integration of differences. I do not want to be you and you are not expected to be me but nevertheless we should be able to work together – not despite but because of our differences. How? When there is mutual respect, our differences are constructive because we differ in an environment in which we learn from each other’s differences. That’s why the Adizes symbol is the hand: every finger is different but together they work like a hand. We do not have a hand if all the fingers are the same, or if they are different but cannot work together.
Integration, not fusion; harmony, not cacophony. Harmony isn’t everyone singing the same note, but different voices singing in complementary tones.
In organizations, to promote mutual respect we create an environment in which it is safe to think differently and express one’s differences of opinion without fear. What does self respect mean now that we understand mutual respect? How do we create a safe environment in personal life and what does safe mean? Safe from whom?
It appears to me that we must recognize, legitimize, accept and even rejoice that we have different, opposing thoughts within ourselves, that we have a “parliament” between our ears. We have lots of political parties there. The Liberal party tells us, “Do it,” while the Conservative party warns us, “Don’t you dare do it.” In making decisions, there is a lot of in-fighting in our own heads. It is called self doubts and disagreements. So, my take on it is that self-respect means to respect our own differences of opinion, which means to recognize all our thoughts are legitimate even when they contradict each other.
I know some people who get very upset because they can’t get a simple, clear answer from their own brains – and the clarity they expect from their brains they expect from others’ brains, too. Calm down. Listen to the voices of dissension in your own head, and understand that it is OK to be in doubt, to have noise in your head. Listen to the noise, calmly, without judging which arguments are right or wrong. Listen to the discussion and make the different “parties” talk to each other – without denial, without anger, without rejection and listen to them all. I disagree with Descartes who said: “Since I think I am.” I am above my thoughts. If you doubt it try meditation. Watch your thoughts. Be above them. Some thoughts are dangerous to your health and well being. So watch your thoughts and don’t get ruled or attached to them.
You need to accept yourself – which means that you should accept all of your thoughts as they come in, even if they do not agree with each other. You should even acknowledge that some sinful ideas pop into your head from time to time. You’re human. Welcome to the club.
Self-respect means that you appreciate – not just tolerate – your own voices of dissension, that you understand that it’s not just OK to be in doubt. You recognize that self doubts, conflicts are good; because if we listen to the conflicting opinions, we learn a lot. It is beneficial and constructive to have such conflict.
Self-respect is necessary for mutual respect because if you cannot cope with your own differences of opinion, how are you going to accept and tolerate someone else’s differences of opinion? If you can accept your own differences of opinion, it is much easier to learn from other people who disagree with you.
Here is an analogy which I hope will be helpful to understand why you need people to disagree with you:
What happens if you try to solve a problem that is beyond the computer’s capability to process? You’ll find that you have to go to a bigger computer. But let’s assume there is no bigger computer. The solution is to develop a computer network: many computers that talk to each other. Jointly they have as much if not more processing power than a large computer. But this power can be achieved only if the computers can talk to each other; and that might be difficult to achieve because different computers might have different operating systems.
Your brain is like a computer. When you are in doubt and cannot solve a problem, what does that tell you? That you have limited processing capability, using your own limited brain power, to process this problem. When that happens to me what do I do? I start putting together a network of “computers.” I go to Paula, to Carlos, and to Sunil and ask them for advise. And I look for people whom I respect who have a different style, like a different operating system. And what happens? First of all I have added processing capacity, more brain power is involved in solving the problem; but the processing capability is different because the peoples styles are different. WHY do I need different styles?
Assume Carlos is a better (A) than I am. By asking for his help, he will automatically start processing the (A) role, freeing my brain from (A) processing and I will have more brain power to process (E). The (PAEI) complementary styles network is more powerful in processing a complex problem than any individual person can process, because there is no person who can process complex (PAEI) problems all by himself or herself and be right on every problem, every time, for ever. (See my book: The Ideal Executive : Why you can not be one and what to do about it.)
But what happens now that there is a network of different styles of management working together? Instead of disagreeing with myself, I now disagree with you and any others who think differently from me. When you express a different viewpoint from mine, you are representing that part of my brain that was disagreeing with me earlier. We already know how upset I was when my own brain was conflicted between my (E) and my (A). Now, when you represent the (A), the more you say things that the (A) part of my brain agrees with, the more upset with you I become. It looks as if I am fighting with you, but in reality I am fighting with myself.
Those different styles should be able to work together like different computer operation systems should be able to communicate if they are going to work as a network.
In Adizes we solved this problem. Have we not?
Adizes offers a language and tools to enable different managerial styles to communicate and complement each other – so that they together can manage complex problems caused by change better than any individual can.
What Adizes is trying to create in organizations is respect for those who disagree with us, because by having respect for other people’s differences of opinion, we are really enabling ourselves to disagree with ourselves better and thus listen to those differences and learn.
I am suggesting that we need to do the same not just with others, but within ourselves. We need to create a safe, constructive learning environment within ourselves.
How? Understand and acknowledge that it is normal and totally acceptable to have differences of opinion – even within yourself. Don’t waste energy being upset about it. Legitimize dissension. Disagreement is an opportunity to learn. Listen to your own voices of dissension. Calmly. Respectfully. Without being too hard on yourself. Without judging your own dissension. And if you cannot solve a problem by yourself, find someone who disagrees with you (without being disagreeable), someone from whose differences of opinion you can learn.
Now let us proceed to the subject of trust.
We know from Adizes that trust is based on faith that there is or will be a common interest. Why faith? The reality is that true common interest, a win-win situation, is rare. In fact, we are constantly involved in a conflict of interests – a win-lose situation. Every minute of the day we are in conflict about our choices: “I want to eat this cake but I know it is not good for me.” Or let’s say, I take you to dinner and I pay for it. I am losing and you are gaining since you don’t pay. So where is the common interest?
To feel that there is a common interest there must be faith that your own interest will be represented eventually, even though it is not being addressed in the present. You should have faith that next time, the other person will invite you for dinner. So in the long run there will be a common interest.
When you have faith, you believe that there is give and take – or better said, give and receive. In a trusting relationship, I will wash the dishes this time. I will give up my time, but it’s no big deal, because I have faith, I trust you, that next time, you will give up your time to wash the dishes.
What about self-trust; what does self-trust mean? Self-trust is what should guide you in conflicts about, for example, that famous cake you wanted to eat or maybe did eat, even though it was not good for you.
Self-trust is not about making the right decision every time. It is about learning from your mistakes, and be willing to try again. Success is not measured by how infrequently you fall down, but by how fast you get up. Or, as Mary Kay eloquently put it when asked the secret of her success: “Do you want to see the scars on my knees?”
When you fall, when you make a mistake – and we all do – have faith that you can get up again. Do not lose your spirit. Trust yourself; know that a failure is not forever, try to see what can you learn from it and trust that next time you will do better.
Years ago I was invited by Alan Bond, from Australia, to watch the America’s Cup, which he won that year. (He told me that he used my methodologies in order to win it.) During dinner, the phone rang and he got up to take it. When he came back, his face was a bit drawn.
“What happened?” I asked him.
“I just lost $20 million,” he said,
“How does it feel to lose $20 million?” I wondered.
“Well, I look at it this way, Ichak,” he said. “Very few people can take a course in life where the tuition is $20 million, and I am one of those fortunate few. Now the question is: Did I pass the exam or not? Did I learn something worth $20 million? If not, then I failed this life course; I paid $20 million in tuition and did not learn the $20 million lesson.”
Whenever something bad happens to you, do not ask, “Why did this happen to me?” Ask, “What for did it happen to me?” (I thank Principle Associate Carlos Valdesuso for making this point to me.) What was it you were supposed to learn from the experience?
There are all kinds of management theories: management by results, management by process, management by values. I would like to propose a new one: management by pride.
The word “pride” has a very clear significance for me. Are you proud of what you do? If you are not proud of what you do, you are doing the wrong thing. That doesn’t mean you aren’t producing results. But have you done the best you could? Are you proud of your work? Are you proud of your actions?
Sometimes we notice a person who is comfortable in his own skin. He is not in conflict with himself. Does this come from faith, self-respect, self-trust? I don’t know what it is; but I do know that if someone is proud of his actions, that means he is not fighting with himself. He accepts his own differences of opinion and has faith in his ability to learn from whatever happens. He can take the heat. He is proud of who he is or does or did. As a formula, I suggest that self-trust plus self-respect equals pride. Do not lose pride because you are internally in conflict and can not decide and needs someone else’s opinion, or because you failed at something. Ask yourself each time: what can I learn from this experience?
Are proud people following God or the Devil? The Nazis were very proud people. In order to know if you are on the right road, you must first be conscious of what you are doing. Then, ask your conscience, look at the compass and decode it: Does what you are proud of promote mutual trust and respect? Does it lead to more integration of diverse people by recognizing their diversity? Are your deeds nurturing constructive diversity or subverting it? If we follow this kind of reasoning, the Nazi pride was destructive and following the Devil, regardless of how religious they were.
Now, let’s analyze what to do at the family level. Is what we do as a society promoting the existence and strength of the family or destroying it? Are we raising our children to follow God or the Devil? To follow construction or destruction? To learn respect and trust or to learn lack of respect and lack of trust? Are we teaching our children to know what pride is all about and what to be proud of?
The vice president of Bank of America gave me a very interesting idea twenty years ago. He had two teenage daughters. Every time they left the house, he told them: “Don’t forget which family you represent.” That is a way of saying: Are you proud of your actions and what they mean for your family?
When you lose self-respect and/or self-trust, you lose pride. Maybe pride is the sign that points in the direction you should go in, managing yourself and in handling your family.
It appears to me that some of the principles we teach organizations to help them achieve Mutual Trust and Respect apply to families as well. It makes sense to schedule periodic family meetings and practice the eleven phases – to discuss the family mission; to discuss who does what and what is not getting done and why; to discuss whether we as individuals are being equitably rewarded in this family; to discuss how we handle our disagreements – do we disagree by being disagreeable, etc?
Let us now move to the next level of application: the world we live in. Looking at the world today, while we progress technologically, while our standard of living gets higher, our quality of life is getting lower. We are witnessing global warming and pollution – not only water and air pollution, but social pollution. (To me, homelessness is a manifestation of social disintegration, of social pollution.)
Unless we choose the constructive direction, we are going to destroy the place we live in. So, what does it mean to respect and trust the environment? What does it mean to respect trees; what does it mean to respect Earth; what does it mean to respect air? I don’t know. We know that respect means “acknowledging the sovereignty to be different” – but how does that apply to the environment?
Here is an experience I have had: I am now working with the government of Montenegro, a new country. They are gung-ho on development: highways, hotels, high-rises. And I watch how the highways are leaving scars on the mountains, and how the high-rises on the mountain-tops look out of place and distract from the beauty of the scenery. In comparison, look at so-called “primitive” villages: Do you realize how they “hug the environment”, how their houses fit their surroundings? Nothing is strange or unnatural. How organic it looks. The so-called primitive man respects the environment better than we do. Development is destroying the world we inhabit. We respect the bottom line, while ruining the environment we live in.
What about trust? What does it mean to trust trees and rocks and nature? I am lost here and invite others to figure out how MT&R applies to macrosystems. But if common interest is the guiding light, then perhaps trees have their own interests, which we violate. How about rocks?
On every level, MT&R seems to be the driving force, the vehicle through which we make choices that can help us live either longer or shorter. It is the code for the compass that points to the exit to constructive rather than destructive change.
MT&R prolongs life. The Jewish prayer book says, “If you serve God you will receive the fruits.” If you don’t, what do you think is going to happen? Drought, flood – “natural” disasters. Open the newspapers and read: “natural” disasters such as droughts, famine, and tornadoes are becoming worse and more frequent. We are accelerating the disintegration of the environment in which we live –, in the name of development, in the name of advancement, improvement. But disintegration is not worshiping God and we have been warned that if we don’t follow His rules, punishment will be forthcoming. I feel we are already getting advance warnings.
We know how to promote MT&R in organizations. But when we go to a macro system, we still have a job to do.
I invite you to think, challenge, and disagree with me. I look forward to learning from your criticism.