|Choke||Inability to access capability when it is needed.|
|Denial||Defensive denial often follows what Freud called "kettle logic". "The problem doesn't exist, and anyway it isn't a problem for us, and anyway we're already dealing with it."|
|Guesswork||Acting in the dark.|
|Meddle||Tinkering and management interference without real understanding.|
|Muddle||Confused and bewildered by many overlapping and conflicting narratives.|
|Panic||Taken by surprise, responding in haste.|
|Policy-based evidence||Finding data to support or justify an existing decision or state, while ignoring any data that might contradict. (Contrasted with evidence-based policy.)|
|Repetition / Oscillation||Repeating the same mistakes without learning. Oscillation means going backwards and forwards between two problems without permanently solving either of them.|
|Short-Sighted / Tunnel Vision||Narrow focus on a single short-term goal, inability to consider broader or longer-term vision.|
Any more? Please add comments.
Does your organization suffer from any of these symptoms? I'm looking for opportunities to test a new diagnostic tool. Please contact me.
NotesFor the distinction between choking and panicking, see Malcolm Gladwell, The Art of Failure (New Yorker, August 2000).
For an example of oscillation, think of an organization that keeps madly switching between extreme centralization and extreme decentralization.
Eliot Jaques produced a theory of management hierarchy based on the idea that higher levels of management should be capable of longer-term thinking; longer-term thinking (often misleadingly called "strategic") is clearly one aspect of organizational intelligence that is valued in the management literature.
Following Morgan's comment, I'm explicitly separating out feelings and motivators (such as ambition, fear, greed, mistrust) - these may drive or inhibit action, but they can be handled in either intelligent or unintelligent ways.