Five ways to safely learn about and mitigate serious blowups

An article about stability and change in an organization, and specifically about how those two concepts are a duality not a dualism, explains how “mindfulness” is one of three ways variability enables stability. Writing in the Acad. Mgt. Rev., April 2010 at 210, the author runs through a list of ways organizations can test new ideas without risking catastrophic failures. Legal departments have years to go before they embrace these ideas, but let’s at least publish them for posterity.

Progressive organizations “experiment cognitively and vicariously using offline mental processes, counterfactual thinking, contingency plans and drills, after-action reviews, and learning from others’ failures” (citations omitted).

The mind boggles: “offline mental processes” – presumably something more dynamic than daydreaming. Counterfactuals are usually thought of as historical “what ifs,” such as “what if Oswald had missed Kennedy?” For a law department, “What if we had incorporated that subsidiary in Texas?” Contingency plans could cover such possibilities as the heart attack of a veteran lawyer or the implosion of a key law firm. After-action reviews I have covered (See my post of April 27, 2010: post mortems with 7 references.) whereas opportunities to learn from others’ failures happens all the time in the law (aka court decisions).

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