I am 3rd year PhD Candidate in the School of Management. My research focuses on Paradoxical Thinking as a strategic response for leaders seeking to innovate in an environment that is characterised by myriad contradictions and paradoxical tensions. These tensions are typically complex, non-linear and dynamic, and many are driven by competing strategies arising from multiple stakeholders, such as the tension between financial and social goals. Paradoxical Thinking is a tool that allows leaders responding to such paradoxes to move away from a binary “either/or’ mindset, and to embrace a whole new way of thinking, decision making and problem-solving where ‘both’ elements can be embraced.
Many paradoxical tensions in organisations are driven by competing strategies arising from multiple stakeholders. A typical tension arises between financial and social goals.
I’ve tried to represent this tension in the 2 sides of this diptych. Oftentimes a leader’s primary attention will be on the financial side, and so I made this the ‘glitzy’ side of the artwork, choosing bright shiny materials that reflect the attraction felt by many leaders towards getting the financial side in order. The other side represents the human resources and social aspects of the organisation, populated oftentimes with numerous and faceless resources, part hidden under organisational structures and processes, frequently the less obvious aspects of the organisation, hence the more muted materials.
And yet, one cannot exist without the other; both are needed to ensure ongoing success. The strip of Velcro joining the 2 sides of the artwork invites a “both/ and" mindset that engages consideration of both aspects of the tension simultaneously – aka Paradoxical Thinking.