Evidence Unicorns and Bullshit 3 Areas of Team Building and Leadership Development Create Learning

If you dislike theory, and seek only “Practical action”; That is unfortunate. Anything you do is founded upon a theory of some sort, and eschewing theory merely means that your decisions are being misdirected by some bad theory which you do not know about. – Elliott Jaques; Requisite Organization

Within the team building and managerial leadership world there is so much information and Jargon Monoxide (wish I came up with this phrase Bob Sutton shared what this means on his blog) that everyone feels overwhelmed.

The challenge is determining what works within organizations is complex.

Beliefs, false ideas, reinforced negative theories of work, personal fallacies about competence, improper systems in place for promotions, onboarding and hiring.

In management as well as team development humans and behaviors do not operate in the same short term cause-effect process that machines do. When something goes wrong we want to blame people, not processes or systems. Because “someone must have screwed up somewhere, and I know it wasn’t me”.

Has this happened to you, In your work or life? Only to later talk to the person and realize that they were working just as hard as you-BUT some process, policy or procedure held up the work getting completed.

I am not excusing under-performance or human errors they happen-I am just asking you to think and explore the system in which your work is done and to consider,

…why would a smart, well intentioned person who is like me. purposely do something to negatively affect the work of all those around them?

I like to separate the responses of into 3 parts;

Evidence | Unicorns | Bullshit




*An organizational culture that is dedicated to telling the truth, even when uncomfortable.

*Challenging excessive Pollyannaism, Positive Psychology, and beliefs that may be founded upon false assumptions.

*Decisions are based upon evidence that can be replicated and examined by peers within and outside of your field.

*You are prepared to change or abandon your processes and thought IF better evidence is found that shows a better way to do something.

*There are secondary sources (academic journals, peer reviewed articles, existing Body of Knowledge, etc…) that are applicable and provide evidence for what you are doing.

*Organizational, Team and individual exploration for risks and drawbacks of what is recommended. Everything has side effects-There is no “Silver Bullet Solution”

Some of my favorite sources for Evidence in team development & Managerial Leadership in addition to my blog;

There are more and if your read these you will be alright.

*This term is from Elliot Jaques-Life & Behavior of Living Organisms;
False assumptions and beliefs that we create through language I call these “unicorns”. We can describe the unicorn, its color, weight, how long its horn is etc…BUT when we look for evidence none exists.

*Organizations and management theory is rife with unicorns – and we hold deeply onto these because much of the foundation for our management is from the same land that the unicorns came from in the first place.

*People believe and may have evidence for “unicorns” and they may even turn out to work very effectively.
This challenge arises when we explore the difficulty of maintaining an effective relationship between the sensible world (realism-the belief that objects exist outside my self and thoughts) in which work and production happen; And the world of language (Idealism-the belief that objects only exist within my thoughts and interactions with them) in which creativity and ideas can take on a life of their own.

*For an example of a Unicorn;

*For this exploration I turn to Harry Frankfurt-On Bullshit;
The essential nature of Bullshit: although it is produced without concern for the truth, is it does not need to be false.
All bullshit must have is a blatant dis-regard for the truth.

*Bullshit is more extreme than “unicorns” because the person knows they are attempting to be deceitful.

*For a great example of Bullshit I suggest you watch this interview on 60 Minutes about Greg Mortenson’s book 3 Cups of Tea.
Or this example from Bob Suttons Blog.

*We find Bullshit in all corners of the world especially when it comes to management. To counter-act the harmful effects that Bullshit can have upon your career refer back to the evidence side of the chart.