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A Balance of Views Can Help You Strike Out Successfully in All Directions

Mar 15, 2008
How can you create an advantageous mix of optimism and pessimism in order to bring out important perspectives about irresistible forces?

Perhaps the best way to achieve this mix is to ensure that key teams in the organization always reflect a diversity of thought about irresistible forces. Any time that you find a quick and easy consensus forming, you should be skeptical that you are on the right track, unless the irresistible force is following precisely a path that you have had experience with before.

Looking for this pro-and-con mix in your suitably-balanced team by no means requires you to reduce the presence of optimists. Research shows that optimists accomplish more than realists or pessimists, because they attempt more and are more confident that they'll succeed. However, you don't want optimism to run amok and instigate action when none should occur. You don't want to simply have happy volunteers for a "Charge of the Light Brigade."

How can you use optimism within your organization and keep it from evolving into overoptimism?

For some companies, a good solution is to use the sense of optimism in the following areas: to keep morale high, to ensure enthusiastic implementation, and to enhance the organization's energy level.

Then shift the focus of that optimism into a new and more beneficial direction: Replace certainty about the current direction with certainty that changed directions will be required, and that your enterprise will aggressively seek out ways to benefit from shifts in irresistible forces. At the same time, an appropriate dose of humility about implementing these new directions will be helpful.

This change in focus can turn the risk of overoptimism into a way to enhance the organization's ability to deal with shifting irresistible forces. A good way to keep this focus is to have the financial group prepare brief reviews of past performance to highlight where optimism has been a problem, and to draw lessons from what went wrong.

Naturally, these judgments also need to relate to the accuracy of the views. For example, I have often seen executives be optimistic about meeting conservative goals. But those goals themselves were based on pessimism about the industry opportunity. It takes a lot of evidence to help such pessimists see what's really going on.

The same problem pertains when it comes to new product and service opportunities. Most people will either be overoptimistic or pessimistic. But again you need to appreciate the actual opportunity to gauge the psychology of your people.
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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