Pressure, Error, and Leading Project Escalations

While we’re on escalated projects it’s a good time to hearken back to Dietrich Dorner’s book on The Logic of Failure: Recognizing and Avoiding Error in Complex Situations.   Such projects are a high-pressure leadership environment, for sure.  It is critical to have no illusions about what lies ahead, especially in the Discovery (here and here) and Decision (here and here) parts of the leadership pyramid.

Ken Thompson’s The Bumble Bee blog at bioteams.com highlights two “tangents” identified by Dorner.  These are common leadership failure modes, largely because they are very tempting to pursue during a crisis.

We may resort to “horizontal flight,” pulling back into a small, cozy corner of reality where we feel at home … Or we may resort to “vertical flight,” kicking ourselves free of recalcitrant reality altogether and constructing a more cooperative image of that reality. Operating solely within out own minds, we no longer have to deal with reality but only with what we happen to think about it.”

Read all of Ken’s post here.  Note his great tips on how to deal with a “flying” leader.

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