World Monitor Mag WM_June 2018 web - Page 96

additional content pure logic underlying it, but not both. It is often a cognitive distortion to split reason from emotion; the most effective, long-lasting decisions bring together the two types of validity. Messages with the cognitive distortion called “emotional reasoning” suggest that if you and your colleagues have the sensation that something is true, it must be true. We feel good about this; therefore, we expect no problems. Or, conversely, It doesn’t feel right; there is a problem here. When you base the logic of a decision on how it makes you and your colleagues feel, you may be led astray. This pattern often affects deals, because people tend to evaluate investments with their emotional impression of past transactions. We were stung by our last deal in this region. Never again. Emotional reasoning often leads to self- fulfilling prophecies. For example, if your company is acquired, you may recall a similar experience from the past. This is just what happened when that other company laid me off. Whether or not you are actually marked for dismissal this time, you feel the same mistrust, fear, and lack of commitment that you would feel if you were. Naturally, you are self-conscious, stiff, and resentful, thereby making leaders more likely to ask you to depart. The flip side of emotional reasoning is rigid rationalism: We came to this decision logically, so there will be no disagreement with it. This is the misperception underlying the “economic rationalism fallacy,” or the idea that a rationally defensible outcome will automatically be persuasive. Everyone supports this downsizing because they have heard the rationale; they know it will make us a higher-performance company. The layoffs may be necessary and justified, but they will not necessarily spark the emotions you think 92 world monitor executive function, broader aspirations, and greater long-term awareness. (See “The Neuroscience of Strategic Leadership,” by Jeffrey Schwartz, Josie Thomson, and Art Kleiner, s+b, December 5, 2016.) they will, any more than people have proven to be purely rational actors in economic situations. Relabeling Deceptive Messages The first step in dealing with deceptive organizational messages — or deceptive messages of any sort — is to recognize them for what they are. We call this step relabeling rather than labeling because deceptive organizational messages already have an implicit label: “the way things are.” As a business leader, you raise collective awareness of them, under the new label of artifacts. These messages are not reality. They don’t represent us. They are simply things we tell ourselves, and the more clearly we see them as such, the more capable we are of changing them. The simple act of relabeling may not seem like much in itself, but it is, in fact, one of the most powerful things you can do as a leader. By abandoning the automatic assumption that deceptive messages are accurate, you assert the agency of the mind. This helps you and others in your organization detach from the automatic churn of messages supporting expedience and short-term solutions, and move closer to more Inquiry, not preachiness, is the key to effective relabeling. Don’t say, “This message is wrong,” or, “Why do we even believe this?” Instead, engage in open- ended inquiry, for example, “How did this message become part of our way of life? What problem were we trying to solve?” If no one has questioned the concept, the strategy, or the approach in years, simply asking questions like this will make it clear that these are not unchangeable precepts. They’re ideas and practices that were adopted in the past, and that can be reconsidered, once they are recognized for what they are. Reframing the Message Keith Bailey’s turnaround of Transpacific Industries went beyond raising awareness of existing deceptive messages. It also involved reframing, that is, replacing the old messages with a new conception of the company’s potential value. Late in 2011, on the second day of his assignment, Bailey brought together the top 14 managers of his division. Seven were in a conference room, and the other seven dialed in from far-flung cities. He summarized his thinking on a mind-map document, a single schematic page laying out all elements of the turnaround strategy in graphic form. The map was simple and clear enough to be shared with everyone in the company, from the senior-most levels to the factory staff. It provided the context for a new narrative: Yes, these problems are serious, but we are capable of fixing them ourselves, if we overcome our internal difficulties and change our practices. During the next