I was slightly hesitant last week with some of my teams decisions. After the turnover, a decreasing shareholder value was achieved and we plummeted from coming second to last. I was sure that we had over spent unnecessarily last week, however I did not take charge as CEO to reduce costs in order to eliminate team conflict and allow team members autonomy to take responsibility for their own area of expertise. Now, seeing the results has made me question whether it was a great decision or not to lead in such a relaxed manner. This leads back to last weeks reading by Chris Argyris, Teaching Smart People How to Learn (1991), which talks about single and double loop learning. To genuinely be in a position of failure is stressful on the mind and saddening to oneself.
Argyris states that "highly skilled professionals are frequently very good at single-loop learning...professionals are often bad at double-loop learning, because many professionals are almost always successful at what they do, they rarely experience failure. And because they have rarely failed, they have never learned from failure. So whenever their single-loop learning strategies go wrong, they become defensive, screen out criticism, and put the 'blame' on anyone and everyone but themselves. Their ability to learn shuts down precisely at the moment they need it the most." From this explanation, I feel as previously I may have partaken in single loop learning. My first reaction to my teams failure this week was an "I told you so" sort of feeling. Argyris states that we as humans have a tendency to 1. remain in control, 2. maximise winning and minimise losing, 3. suppressing negative feeling and 4. be as rational as possible. The reason we act in this way is to "avoid embarrassment or threat, feeling vulnerable or incompetent." (Argyris, 1991). As theory mixes with reality, I feel as this reading has had significant impact on me and I should endeavour to shift my mindset to that of a double-loop learner, getting past my defensive reasoning as pictured in the reference image above, and only then will I truly be able to learn from my mistakes.
Now back to the simulation. I can't quite pinpoint where exactly we went wrong. I wasn't particularly thrilled with our R&D manager's decision to release 2 new products each rollover, this is because in the practice rollovers I tried to do this which always lead to failure. I did share my experiences with the team on how I achieved a high SHV initially to become CEO in the first place, but team members did not see eye to eye. I believe I am lacking in conceptual skill which, as CEO, is one thing that I should be mastering (Katz,1955), so there is no one else to blame for allowing the initial implementation to go ahead, except myself. Now, I wish I had spoken up earlier. I think what our team needs is to re-align and re-establish shared goals in order for our team to once again work together in a coherent form (Katzenbach and Smith, 1992). Apologies for such a negative journal entry, but I am really at a lost here as to how to turn things around. The last thing I want is for my entire team to achieve a poor grade, as I feel I have a responsibility as CEO to not allow this to happen. Fingers crossed our next turnover will look better.
Argyris, C. (1991). Teaching smart people how to learn. Reflections, 4(2), 4–15
Katz, R. L. (1955). Skills of an effective administrator. Harvard Business Review, 33(1), 33–42.
Katzenbach, J. R. & Smith, D. K. (1992). Why teams matter. McKinsey Quarterly, (3), 3--27