Home Organizational Psychology Leadership Leading into the Future I: An Introduction

Leading into the Future I: An Introduction

21 min read

The postmodern edge is examined in these essays from several different perspectives. Perhaps this transitional era in which we now live is in fact a new future, rather than being merely a way station to a new future that has not yet been born. We may now be living not in the age of anxiety, but rather in the age of “edginess.” A mid-west-bred educator (and student mine), with extensive business experience, described this era of edginess in terms of a popular film cartoon:

My current image of a past employer is almost a cartoon that many postmodern companies will reenact. It is Wiley Coyote back-pedaling madly, clawing at the ground trying to stop as his inertia carries him to the precipice. There, the great cosmic road runner hovers in mid-air with a silly grin on its face. The coyote goes over and down silently, and with a look of utter chagrin. “Beep! Beep!” is the only communication heard.

In this postmodern era, men and women look for order in the midst of chaos, as they stand, like Wiley Coyote, poised on the edge or already over the edge of a psychological and organizational abyss.

Another of my mature and accomplished students (a middle-aged corporate executive) stated this point quite eloquently in his description of a moderately large corporation that he helped to found:

Our people spend their time looking for the insignificant events; the events at the margin that can add order or stability to the complexities they live in. This reduces our effectiveness as an organization and ultimately limits our ability to survive in a very competitive marketplace. They are constantly looking for ways to reduce their frustrations and uncertainty by seeking and challenging the vision and leadership of the company. While we the senior management focus on growth and largeness, they focus on transitions. Our continuous play between chaos and order is reflected [in] our need to constantly be in meetings. Someone finds a chaotic situation and quickly calls the group together for resolution. Instead of making clear and concise decisions that are communicated to the organization we tend to increase the ambiguity in the company and clarify only the smallest of issues. We do not address with clarity the process required to make uncertainty easier to resolve for the organization.


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