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Paradigms Lost – Part 5: Business: Repeated Business Successes Now Require Conquering Auto-Contexts

Written by: Barry Borgerson, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Recapitulation: This series of articles for Brainz Magazine builds upon on the assumption that we all operate in two modes – a thinking mode (our thinking-self) and an automatic mode (our auto-self). Parts 1-3 of this article introduced our realities-determining auto-contexts, showed how they are generalizations of Thomas Kuhn’s paradigms, and identified the accumulation of anomalies as the mechanism to determine the validity or invalidity of the internal realities created by auto-contexts. These Parts also described the Abilities Mismatch, which identifies that our thinking-self prowess now creates disruptions that overwhelm our previous capability to manage their auto-self ramifications. This mind-level mismatch creates the underlying reason why we have fundamentally hit the end of the more than two centuries of growing prosperity and well-being in the West that resulted from the Science/Enlightenment Revolution. You also saw two automatic mental mechanisms that block auto-context (cultures, worldviews, values, attitudes) reconstructions in the form of the certainty illusion (and delusion) and the Comfort Imperative. We identified that a necessary path to future successes is to Believe but Verify when dealing with our internal certainties. Part 4 presented an overview of how to transform “in here” certainties (buried in auto-contexts) when they don’t correspond with facts “out there” or align with our success needs. Now we are in a position to move from understanding general concepts and improvement processes to solving specific problems in crucial domains.

Part 5: Business: Repeated Business Successes Now Require Conquering Auto-Contexts


We start our journey into solving specific, pressing problems by focusing on the necessity to manage the auto-context impacts on business successes.


Anomalies for the “Sustainable Success” Genre of Books


When you learn to look for them, Phil Rosenzweig’s book, The Halo Effect: ...and the 8 Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers, is loaded with anomalies with respect to the worldview that emerged about the widely read genre of “sustainable success” books.


“For all of the secrets and formulas, for all of the self-proclaimed thought leadership, success in business is as elusive as ever. It’s probably more elusive than ever, with the increasingly global competition and technological change moving at faster and faster rates – which might explain why we’re tempted by promises of breakthroughs and secrets of quick fixes in the first place. Desperate circumstances push us to look for miracle cures.” Or, in our current terms, growing discomfort at the widespread failure to directly manage “soft” success factors causes many people to fall for seduction traps in the form of simplistic solutions.


“In 1984, Business Week ran a follow-up story under the title ‘Who’s Excellent Now?’ By their reckoning, at least 14 of the [43] companies highlighted by Peters and Waterman [In Search of Excellence] just two years earlier had ‘lost their luster.’ Many companies had ‘suffered significant earnings declines that stem from serious business problems, management problems, or both.’ Other companies were clinging tenuously to their status as Excellent companies but had been ‘humbled by blunders.’” We should view these as anomalies in the assertion of finding a formula for “lasting” success.


“Built to Last was published in 1994 and became an immediate hit. Inc. magazine gushed: ‘The In Search of Excellence for the 1990s has arrived.’” This is how the press indirectly aided establishing the “best practices” business worldview by using Excellence as an exemplar to create instant credibility for a new version of “discovering” a magical formula for sustainable success. Business leaders must learn to Believe but Verify!


“For the five years after the study ended, only five companies improved their profitability while 11 declined, with one unchanged. [More anomalies in the viability of the worldview about “sustainable success”] Most of Collins and Porras’s visionary companies, chosen precisely because they had done so well for so long, fell back to earth. The ‘master blueprint for long-term prosperity’ turns out to be largely a delusion.” But these books sold extremely well because the press had inadvertently constructed a widespread certainty delusion that literature searches and retrospective interviews could “discover” a simple elixir of lasting business successes in an era of massive technology-driven disruptions.


“Yet no one seemed to look closely at the shortcomings [read, “anomalies”], because Good to Great had such an encouraging message: You, too, can transform your good company into a Great one. Collins was explicit on this point. He wrote, ‘Greatness is not a matter of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice.’” That is a massive anomaly because we cannot choose to manage our auto-self in real time and none of these books provided any indication of understanding the root cause of our problems and the need to make periodic transformations to our opaque automatic activities.


The Halo book is loaded with anomalies about the “best practices” genre of books that became so popular because the relentless hyperbole built up around them constructed a widespread worldview within the business community that they were a panacea. We can look at many of Rosenzweig’s halos and delusions in his Halo book as a series of anomalies with respect to the viability of the widespread worldview that these books could solve our increasing “soft” problems. These problems were actually due to the Abilities Mismatch and our previous inability to understand and manage the auto-self. The widespread failure to Believe but Verify led to the misplaced popularity of this genre of “sustainable success” books. The success path for business leaders is to forget about any hope of finding a static formula for “sustainable success.” Rather, they need to acquire the capabilities to transform the auto-self and particularly auto-contexts to create a long-term series of repeated successes, which our relentlessly disruptive business environments will increasingly require.


I have created an analysis of Rosenzweig’s Halo book through the lens of 2Selfs Worldview using 2Selfs Theory that shows how the sustainable-success books had no chance to produce the level of results they promised because they failed to take into account auto-self activities. You can obtain a free PDF of that analysis by sending an email to me at Barry@2Selfs.com.


Anomalies in Our Abilities to Manage the Human Ramifications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution


View Deficiencies in Handling the Human Ramifications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution as Anomalies: We should look at the deficiencies that Klaus Schwab identifies in his book The Fourth Industrial Revolution as anomalies in the current worldview we use to solve the human ramifications of these technology tsunamis. We will do well to recognize that existing business worldviews focus primarily on thinking-self, knowledge-based (“hard” or solid) problem solving and secondarily on managing auto-contexts, which currently consists primarily of worldviews based on anemic foundations for managing “soft” (or amorphous) success factors.`


Fourth Industrial Revolution Anomalies: Here is a list of some of the fundamental deficiencies, which we can usefully view as anomalies, that Schwab reveals with respect to our current worldviews that provide the foundation for solving the rapidly escalating “soft success factors.” These issues identify current chronic inadequacies in dealing with the human ramifications of the technologies that he characterizes as driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution: (italics mine)

  • “Decision-makers are too often caught in traditional, linear (and non-disruptive) thinking.”

  • “The more we will examine ourselves and the underlying social models that these technologies embody and enable, the more we will have an opportunity to shape the revolution in a manner that improves the state of the world.”

  • “The requisite institutional framework to govern the diffusion of innovation and mitigate the disruption is inadequate at best and, at worst, absent all together.”

  • “It is a leader’s ability to continually learn, adapt and challenge his or her own conceptual and operating models of success that will distinguish the next generation of successful business leaders.”

  • “Strategic planning is being challenged by the need for companies to operate faster and with greater agility.”

  • “The urgent need to look at oneself as a business leader and at one’s own organization. Is there evidence of the organization and leadership capacity to learn and change?

  • “Does the culture accept innovations?”

  • “This…must compel them to challenge the assumptions of their operating teams and find new ways of doing things.”

A Clarion Call for a Mental Revolution: The above deficiencies are anomalies in the business community’s available worldviews and processes to handle the human ramifications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. These inadequacies are so fundamental that no amount of incremental (normal) improvements to our current problem-solving capabilities will empower us to conquer these anomalies as long as we keep addressing them indirectly as “soft” success factors. We require disruptive (revolutionary) improvements to our capabilities to address them directly and effectively. As such, we should view these anomalies from Schwab as a clarion call for a necessary mental revolution so we can take maximum advantage and avoid the negative consequences of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We now understand that revolutionary new capabilities require new types of processes operating within a different auto-context in the form of a new problem-solving worldview. 2Selfs Theory working within the problem-solving foundation of 2Selfs Worldview is currently the only credible path to achieve that positive outcome.


Schwab also makes additional points including the following.


“Knowing what is required to thrive is one thing; acting upon it is another. Where is all this leading and how can we best prepare?” The major claim made throughout this article, and I have extremely high confidence I am right about this, is that a necessary part of the way we can “best prepare” is to conquer the auto-self. And, the most crucial aspect of that is to learn to understand and manage auto-contexts in the many incarnations in which they control our lives including our business successes.


“The eventual course that the fourth industrial revolution takes will ultimately be determined by our ability to shape it in a way that unleashes its full potential.” The Third Industrial Revolution created the Abilities Mismatch, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution will only exacerbate that fundamental problem. Therefore, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will only accelerate the unintended technology-caused consequences to so many of our social systems and personal responsibilities. The only way to unleash the “full potential” of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is to conquer auto-contexts.


I have created a white paper that analyzes the deficiencies that Schwab identifies from a 2Selfs Theory perspective and outlines processes to overcome them. You can obtain that free white paper by sending a note to me at Barry@2Selfs.com.


Business-Process Innovation Deathtrap: “That is how we do it here.”


While I was conducting a four-session workshop for top management of a company on making commitments and holding people accountable for their commitments, I was leading the participants through how auto-contexts operate. One of the participants, Chris, who headed a design department, got an “ah ha” moment that he courageously shared with us. He said that an intern came to him some time ago to ask why they used a specific process. Chris said he explained to the intern, “That is how we do it here.” When the intern asked him again later, Chris reported being annoyed and telling him, “That’s just the way we do it, stop worrying about it, and get on with your assignment.”


The intern had the courage to come back for a third try. This time he told Chris that he realized he was just an intern but that he was there to learn and he just could not figure out why they used that specific process. He said that he would appreciate it if Chris would take the time to explain it to him. Chris reported that finally out of frustration he decided to sit down with the intern and explain it to him so that the intern would get off his back.


This is where Chris bravely revealed to the assembled group of his peers and boss his astonishment to realize he could not explain it at all. He said it was obvious to him that the current problem-solving process was the correct one to use, but when he examined it closely, he couldn’t explain why. Chris finally figured out that he had probably learned the process when he started with the company many years earlier and just accepted it without question.


When Chris made his hidden assumptions explicit, he was able to analyze them with the intern and realize that although the process built upon these assumptions (i.e., this worldview) did work, or else they would have noticed a problem with results, it wasn’t optimum and a better problem-solving process was available. Chris said that learning about auto-contexts enabled him to understand what happened to him because when it occurred he was dumbstruck about it. I was able to use Chris’s gutsy disclosure to help others at the workshop understand that auto-contexts, and particularly shared auto-contexts in the form of professional worldviews or organizational cultures, are hidden assumptions or beliefs that appear to us as the way things “really are” or as “the way we do it.” Chris’s story also helped the participants understand that once we can make a hidden worldview explicit, we have the opportunity to test it and reconstruct it, which usually leads to a better results.


Greater Successes Await Those Who Can Accept Challenges to Their Certainties: We should recognize a couple of general principles from this encounter. Our auto-context-based certainties often mislead us – we become certain we are correct even though when forced to defend our certainties, the thinking-self is often clueless. Also, we should all actively challenge each other’s hidden assumptions (even the deepest “certainties”), and we need to do our best to pay attention and bravely examine our own assumptions and consciously look for anomalies when others challenge them or ask for explanations. Believe but Verify!

We Need to Change the Culture that Controls How We Create Culture Changes


We know that auto-contexts control many aspects of our realities including our problem-solving worldviews, our cultures for businesses and other social systems, and our values. Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies are now creating business-environment disruptions at an accelerating rate, and those regularly require changes to business cultures including missions and strategies. What we desperately need now is an auto-context that creates a reality for us that we must frequently reconstruct this type of auto-context.


We Need a Culture that Empowers Culture Change


The Inescapable Need to Transform Cultures Systematically: A fundamental part of business cultures must be that most elements of a company’s culture will become obsolete. That has always been the case, but it previously took place so slowly that the changes could occur inter-generationally. That is, successive generations of top management, often from outside the organization, could drive the culture changes. The explicit focus of Schwab’s identification of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is formalizing the incremental but accelerating process of technology-driven changes in business and other environments. However, as you saw, Schwab also points out in many ways that business leaders fundamentally lack the capability to navigate their company successfully through realizing the potential benefit of these amazing technologies. We have now passed the transition point where business leaders must drive culture changes multiple times during their careers. That will become a new success imperative. However, very few business leaders currently know how to make culture changes systematically, reliably, and quickly enough to meet escalating needs. The path to overcome that chronic deficiency is learning to reconstruct auto-contexts. And, that will require leaders to progress from seat-of-the-pants and empirical theories for creating culture changes to root-cause-theory transformations that model the auto-context mental mechanism that constitutes a culture.


Transformable Cultures: A crucial culture change we need to make for all businesses and indeed all types of organizations is to become transformable. One aspect of becoming transformable relates to reconstructing counterproductive behaviors in leaders so the company can execute at a peak level to succeed within rapidly intensifying global competition. I will address behavior-habit transformations in my next Brainz Magazine article. An even more important aspect of becoming transformable is to construct a fundamental part of business cultures that frames the reality that elements of their culture will inevitably become obsolete quickly and therefore will require periodic culture changes. Transformable leaders will have a long-term competitive advantage over other leaders who fail to acquire this discontinuously greater leadership capability.


Stop Expecting and Accepting Business Failures: The Halo and Fourth Industrial Revolution books identified the problem of increasing failures in established companies in different ways.

  • Halo: “Guess how many companies on the S&P 500 in 1957 were still on the S&P 500 in 1997, 40 years later? Only 74… And of the 74 survivors, guess how many outperformed the S&P 500 over that period? Only 12 out of 74. The other 62 survived, yes, but they didn’t thrive.”

  • Fourth Industrial Revolution: “The historical reduction in the average lifespan of a corporation listed on the S&P 500 has dropped from around 60 to approximately 18 [years].”

Culture Changes – Reconstructing a Company’s Mission/Strategies


We can observe how making timely culture changes often leads to future successes and why not making them frequently leads to failures by examining the video-rental industry. Video rentals started with mom-and-pop stores renting VHS videos. Then, Blockbuster emerged with a different business model that relied on standard-looking storefronts and volumes of scale, which allowed them early access to new movies. They grew rapidly by opening company-owned stores, creating franchises, and acquiring other multi-store businesses in the US and abroad. Blockbuster then made the easy technology-driven culture change to renting DVDs using their existing business model. However, Netflix created a different business model that mailed DVDs to customers and did not charge late fees but worked on a subscription plan based on the number of simultaneous DVDs you could have.


Blockbuster was not able to make their culture change to respond to Netflix partly because they had invested heavily in brick-and-mortar. Along the way, as always happens, a business-model culture arose that contained a certainty illusion for them that their business model was correct and therefore would continue to produce excellent business results. Then Netflix made a huge business-model culture change in launching a streaming service. That also represented a problem-solving worldview change because they used an emerging technology to alter the way they delivered videos.


Blockbuster may have survived the culture-lock problem of sticking with storefronts and late-return penalties for DVD rentals, but the failure to respond to the culture change of video streaming buried them. So stuck in their storefront business model were they that they even passed when Netflix was struggling financially and offered to sell themselves to Blockbuster for $50 million in 2000 (how’s that for certainty-illusion myopia. Netflix’s market cap was $237 billion on July 1, 2021, and Blockbuster has long since gone bankrupt). The articulated reason for culture lock-in cases like this is that if they started streaming, it would eat away at their current business. But another unrecognized reason is the certainty illusion that their business model must be right. After all, it was not difficult for their thinking-self to figure out that the streaming business model was going to eat away at their DVD rental business, only someone else was going to get the new revenue.


That same culture-lock problem took place several years earlier with the long-time iconic camera and film-processing company Kodak. They had tremendous internal digital-imaging capabilities but their leaders failed to launch the digital business because they claimed it would eat away at their film business, which of course happened anyway. Again, those are usually the external rationalizations – the real reasons are that people feel certain they are correct due to an auto-context-based certainty illusion. I had some personal touch points with the nascent digital-imaging business of Kodak, and you can see my analysis of what happened to them at the auto-context level by requesting my free short white-paper analysis at Barry@2Selfs.com.


Blockbuster and Kodak are just two examples of succumbing to the innovation deathtrap, which results from the inability to understand the mental straitjacket of certainty illusions. Unfortunately, as technologies become broader and come at us faster, innovation deathtraps will become increasingly ubiquitous. Business leaders must find systematic ways to overcome this certainty-illusion-caused innovation-deathtrap path to failure. Believe but Verify!


The following diagram illustrates the innovation deathtrap by using the auto-self imagery of an internal robot with a lens to identify auto-contexts.


Anatomy of the Culture Innovation Deathtrap


We will now turn our attention to the positive side of this issue by outlining how to make systematic culture change, which is a key process for creating a long series of repeated successes for companies and other types of organizations.


Making Timely Culture Changes: Annual Culture-Reconstruction Retreats


Systematically Turning Disruptive Technologies into Profit Streams: An excellent mechanism to escape innovation deathtraps is to turn strategy formation activities into something that consistently produces valuable business results. The real value of an annual strategic planning retreat does not come from identifying incremental (normal) improvements; each operating unit and functional area is quite capable of achieving these thinking-self-based improvements within existing auto-contexts (cultural elements) on their own. An annual retreat of top management can serve an enormously useful function if it focuses on searching out disruptive (revolutionary) technologies, products, processes, and marketing concepts within the company and using systematic auto-context-reconstruction processes to ensure that the company turns the best ones into new profit streams for the business. Accordingly, identifying these annual gatherings as Annual Culture-Reconstruction Retreats can focus on the real deep and quite possibly company-saving purpose. These culture-change retreats are difficult to execute effectively, so companies would do well to engage an expert culture-change coach to facilitate the first one or two until they can sustain the process using internal resources. This is a key element in becoming a transformable company that has the ability to execute a long-term series of repeated successes.


Exposing Anomalies in the Business Culture: Another potent process can lead to beneficial culture changes during Annual Culture-Reconstruction Retreats. Have each leader who has the privilege of attending these culture-change meetings bring at least one culture element, make the assumptions explicit, and task every participant to identify possible anomalies.


Culture Reconstruction Process


We Need an Attitude Change in How We Go About Dealing with Attitudes


Attitudes about Our Attitudes

As with problem-solving worldviews and organizational cultures, our attitudes are buried within auto-contexts, which makes us certain they are correct. However, just like with the other forms of auto-contexts, we need to summon the courage to make explicit and then challenge our attitudes from time to time. We need to construct an attitude (auto-context) that attitudes are mental constructions that we can manage.


Dysfunctional Attitude: “They Deserve It”


William was the CEO of a mid-size design and manufacturing company. He was extremely effective at most aspects of his leadership role, but he had the dysfunctional habit of publicly humiliating his employees and especially his leadership team if they did something that displeased him.


While the common approach to transforming errant auto-behaviors is to go through a direct reconstruction process, sometimes it works better to reconstruct the auto-context-based attitude that drives a dysfunctional behavior to reconstruct the bad habit indirectly. After probing repeatedly about how William experienced his overbearing behavior, he finally was able to recognize that it felt to him like “they deserve it” because he paid them a lot of money and they should not make such mistakes.


I led William through understanding whether his rude behavior was getting the results he desired by drilling down with a set of open questions. “How do your outbursts empower people to do better next time”? “In what ways do your eruptions motivate or demotivate people you deal with”? “How are recipients of this behavior likely to hear and understand what you say when their focus is on their own discomfort?” “Tell me about the candor you are likely to receive regarding questions and concerns if your leaders fear your wrath.” After struggling through a series of such uncomfortable open questions, William decided to establish a clear intention to change his attitude so he could stop this counterproductive behavior. This is an example of making auto-context-based certainties explicit and then searching for anomalies by using the thinking-self to evaluate alignment, or lack thereof, with success goals. Believe but Verify!


Coaching William to construct a new auto-context to replace his counterproductive attitude empowered him to stop his old dysfunctional behavior and replace it with a new productive behavior. William actually started calling his new approach “coaching people” rather than bullying them, and this was the key process that enabled him to achieve two of his Grand Goals – reducing turnover and increasing productivity.


Don’t Get Maxed Out


Business environments are fundamentally and irreversibly changing ever more frequently, and most leaders have maxed out because they have not recognized and learned to manage the need to make rapid, methodical culture changes in the business they run.


What Got You Here Won’t Get You There


Max was the CEO of a midsize manufacturing company with about 2000 employees at four locations. He had a long and storied career at his company but he failed to adapt to accelerating changes in the business world. He had a strong personality and tenacious focus on measurable results but suffered from significant deficits. Max did not recognize the importance of developing increasingly effective capabilities within his leadership team so they could outperform competitors in the global economy.


Additionally, Max’s past successes so paralyzed him that he was chronically slow to incorporate new technologies into their operations and to make changes to their business strategies to counter emerging global competition. The company could not prosper going forward without having the ability to make culture changes more frequently, and Max had failed to develop the capabilities to accomplish these changes systematically.


To be an effective CEO going forward, Max had to change. Sally, the company’s VP of HR, contacted us about coaching him. Sally lamented Max’s blindness to the importance of leadership development, of transforming his own counterproductive behaviors, and of making timely culture changes required of successful CEOs and other senior leaders in today’s business environment. His career was on the line.


Aversion to “Soft” Success Factors


During my first face-to-face meeting with Max and Sally, Max said he did not understand all of the hoopla about “soft” success factors. “I am a numbers guy. I came up through the manufacturing ranks and we are all about numbers there. When I became a divisional general manager, I still relied on hard data to achieve my successes not only for manufacturing but also for engineering by focusing on product delivery schedules and sales by relying on the metrics of the prospect funnel.


“My approach must be correct because the board promoted me to CEO three years ago. Now Sally and the board are telling me that it’s not just what I get done but how I do it and that I must develop my leadership team much better. They also keep haranguing me that I need to become much better at making culture changes to respond to the growing changes in our environment.”


Max was confused and frustrated. “Aren’t ‘hard’ success factors labeled that way because they are difficult to implement and require expertise and hard work?”


“No,” I replied. “They are labeled ‘hard’ because they are solid, visible, and measurable, and the business community has theory-anchored processes to manage them.”


“Then what are these so-called ‘soft’ success factors?” he asked.


Max’s confusion is common for executives, including those with substantial successes behind them, so he missed the essence of the hard vs. soft metaphor.


Max had received enough critical feedback that he agreed to participate in a 360° leadership survey. “So I get from the feedback that making culture changes and providing leadership development for my executive staff are examples of soft success factors, but I can’t for the life of me see what those two types of activities have in common.”


I tried to convince Max not to be so hard on himself by telling him that the commonality is difficult to see because automatic human activities control both, which very few executives currently understand, to their detriment. Max was great at driving results using his well-honed thinking-self capabilities, but he only used seat-of-the-pants approaches to the auto-self-controlled soft success factors. That deficiency rendered his leadership capabilities increasingly inadequate


After much delay, Max finally agreed to participate in a transformation coaching process, and he threw himself into that activity with the same passion he always applied to his “hard” management activities.


Sadly, Too Late


Regrettably, Max delayed too long to respond to Sally’s and the board’s intervention, so at just our fourth coaching session, Max struggled to tell me some bad news. “The board and I have been moving toward acquiring a smaller company, and they don’t feel that I’m up to integrating that business into ours in a way that maximizes the effectiveness of our joint businesses because they believe I can’t manage the necessary culture changes well enough. They have decided to replace me with somebody from outside our company.”


As we abruptly terminated our nascent coaching engagement, Max lamented, “I had no clue about my robot-like automatic mode and that I needed to learn to ‘reprogram’ my own and that of others around me. I feel like I was blindsided, but the clues were there and I just did not understand them or know what to do about them. I indeed heard about a distinction between soft and hard success factors, but I never suspected they implied different modes of mental activities. I knew authors discussed management ‘science’ and some spoke about the ‘art’ of leadership, but I had no clue that the first was a thinking activity and the latter resided primarily in our automatic mode. I of course knew something about paradigms and cultures, but how was I to know how different they were to manage from the explicit, measurable processes I was so good at handling?”


The above encounter occurred a few years ago. Now, business leaders must contend with the exploding technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the rippling effects of the coronavirus pandemic, and many other disruptive factors including the internal-immolation of self-governing systems and the increasingly widespread effects of climate change. This turmoil, especially the relentless march of products mostly built upon semiconductor technologies, has fundamentally and irretrievably changed the world of businesses and business leadership. The result is that leaders with impressive histories of success who rely on past processes and view many success factors through the hazy “soft” lens will fail to meet the needs of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Don’t get maxed out!


We Need to Construct a Foundational Business Auto-Context to Create Transformable Businesses


Becoming Transformable as the Key to Future Leadership and Businesses Successes: For organizational leaders, becoming transformable will constitute the central mechanism that determines a systematically ascending career path. For businesses, becoming transformable in a way that endures through leadership transitions will be the central cultural element that leads to repeated company successes. For individuals, transformability will become a key capability to enhance their well-being.


Constructing Transformability – The Unfair Business Advantage of the Future: The fundamental auto-context we need to establish for all successful business leaders and for businesses to survive leadership changes is to construct an auto-context that creates the cultural reality that businesses must transform themselves periodically, and in today’s technology-driven world, much more rapidly and therefore methodically. That is, we need to create the deep belief that transformations must occur frequently and that includes for auto-behaviors of the leaders, for problem-solving worldviews, and especially for such cultural elements as mission and strategy.


From “Soft” to Methodical: One of the biggest problems we face with the many ways auto-contexts (and other types of auto-self activities including auto-behaviors) negatively impact businesses is that most leaders have not yet clearly understood the systemic headwinds they face in creating repeated successes for their company. The several examples in this article should help you gain insights into that issue because you have seen many anomalies for the hidden worldview based on an anemic visibility to something inadequately referred to as “soft” success factors. However, once business leaders understand the necessity to conquer auto-contexts to create repeated successes, the best of them will move rapidly to become transformable and therefore more systematically and consistently successful.


The situation is quite different with our systemically crumbling self-governing systems to which we will turn our attention in Part 6. Here you will see overwhelming evidence of dysfunctions but a lack of any internal will within our political structures to make the transformations necessary to keep them from continuing down the path of self-destruction.


Links to the previous parts of this article:


Part 1: Introduction: Conquering Auto-Contexts Is the Key to Restarting Widespread Prosperity and Well-Being

Part 2: Fundamentals of Auto-Contexts – Starting with Kuhn’s Paradigms

Part 3: Certainty Anomalies – We Need the Courage and the Wisdom to Notice Them

Part 4: Auto-Context Transformations: Yes, We Can Periodically Change Who We Are


Connect with Barry on LinkedIn and visit his website for more information!


 

Barry Borgerson, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Dr. Barry Borgerson graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a Ph.D. in computer science and one of his minors in the management of human resources. Barry co-led a multi-year DARPA-funded research project at the University and then went on to a highly successful career in the computer industry, starting as a lead computer architect and progressing through successive promotions to increasingly responsible leadership positions in technical management up to executive-level general management. When he took over a business that was failing and initiated actions to change some dysfunctional behaviors and the outdated culture of that business, he encountered so much counterproductive resistance that he started a long-term study into why very smart, highly educated, and extremely experienced people frequently cannot enact externally obvious changes they need to make to succeed.


That study led him to discover that the underlying cause of so many dysfunctional activities and the tenacious, normally uncontrollable, resistance to deep changes reside in enigmatic automatic human activities that business leaders normally do not notice, cannot change on their own if others point out their dysfunctions, and often deny they even exist. Barry then developed 2Selfs Theory, a comprehensive, business-friendly, generalized theory of the mind that models the sometimes cooperation but often competition between our explicit problem-solving abilities (using our “thinking self”) and our previously mysterious involuntary activities (driven by our “automatic self”) and provides systematic, reliable processes to align our elusive automatic actions with our explicit intentions and needed success priorities. Dr. Borgerson has repeatedly verified the effectiveness of the pragmatic 2Selfs Theory by applying it in many venues including through transformation coaching to reconstruct counterproductive behavior habits of business leaders and to change obsolete or dysfunctional company cultures, where the transformation processes worked immediately and repeatedly as the theory predicted.

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