Contradictions Lead to Crazy

Confusion! by LuluP (creative common license)

I’m reading the book “Conscious Business: How to Build Value Through Values” by Professor Fred Kofman. While only a short way in, so far I’ve found it to be very insightful.

Based on this, I started following Professor Kofman’s “Influencer” posts on LinkedIn.

I really appreciate and recommend his two most recent posts.

In the first — titled, “Is Your Job Driving You Nuts?” — he discusses how to recognize stress-inducing contradictions that may (or likely do) exist in your workplace.

Here’s a key passage:

When you combine unattainable goals with contradictory managers you get double binds, those emotionally distressing dilemmas that can cause schizophrenia. Argyris found double binds of the following kind in every organization he studied:
1.    The manager gives a contradictory order.
2.    The manager makes the contradiction un-discussable.
3.    The manager makes the un-discussibility un-discussable.

Making the “un-discussability un-discussable”… stress-inducing indeed. At a minimum, it’s frustrating and makes good employees long for a less thought-stifling environment.

He goes on to explain:

Inconsistencies and misunderstandings are inevitable… The good news is that inconsistencies are necessary, but not sufficient to create double binds. The condition for craziness is un-discussability… A culture of mutual learning, in which people are open to discussing dilemmas, is the best antidote.

In his subsequent post, Prof. Kofman addresses how to reduce or “dissolve” organizational contradictions.

Here are links to the full articles:

Is Your Job Driving You Nuts?

Discussing The Un-discussable – How To Stay Sane At Work

If you’re interested in following Professor Kofman on LinkedIn, here’s his Influencer page.