It amazes me how paradoxical recommendations can be. I am sharing two examples in this post to highlight a few of these paradoxes.
Homogenized teams are better than heterogeneous teams. In homogeneous teams, members blend easier and build trust in much less time than in heterogeneous teams. Without trust, the team shall go rusty and dismantle. Managerial problems become time-consuming and distract attention to problem-solving rather than solution-seeking.
Like similar birds flock together, so the tendency increases for building homogeneous teams. To this extreme is the problem. The diversity of team members enhances creativity. In our complex world, creativity is survival and longevity. What we tend to see is the tangible problems of heterogeneous teams and overlook their intangible creativity potential.
When homogeneous team members run into conflict and become similarly charged they repel each other like the two north poles of two magnets do when brought close enough.
The paradox here is closeness separates and gets team members far apart.
We focus on the rewards of what we desire and overlook their hidden risks. We seek to solve visible problems and overlook the invisible roots of intangible problems that may grow faster than weeds do.
Focus on Solutions and Not Problems
You shall hardly find any reference calling for focusing on problems rather than solutions. This is the least resistant path and we have a natural tendency to follow this recommendation.
We tend to generalize as if all problems have similar nature. They are not. There are simple problems, complicated problems, complex problems, and chaotic problems. Should we focus on the solution regardless of its type? To answer this question I share two personal experiences with the readers.
I consulted for a soft drinks manufacturer in a developing country. To the amazement of the company, the strawberry-flavored drink sold in winter and hardly any in summer. This is an unexpected behavior. The company thought of technical problems or faulty strawberry flavor that was may have caused the problem. The company changed the suppliers of flavors, but with no solution.
I did a quick survey and found that women bought the strawberry-flavored drink and mainly those in the ages ranging between 17-25 years old. To cut the story short, the reason turned out that female students at high school and university were the customers. They bought the strawberry to use as a substitute for the unaffordable imported cosmetics.
I recommended the doubling of the strawberry flavor and increasing the prices of the drink. That turned out to be a highly profitable recommendation.
In another experience, I consulted for a paint company, which was the first company to mix paint ingredients with a computer-controlled process.
The company spent huge amounts of money because of the chaotic mixing resulting from the faulty computer. Upon reviewing the history of the company it turned out that, they faced a problem when it was under construction. I doubted that water that moved up wetted the cables of the computers and so behaved abnormally, using a hair drier to dry the cables solved the problem.
We need to be careful when we make recommendations for they might be recommendations for new problems. This is a real paradox.