George Soros, the billionaire investor and philanthropist, has written about a concept he calls “reflexivity.” Its point is that everything we do depends on our perceptions and beliefs, and that these perceptions and beliefs can and often do change. Unlike the physical world that observes immutable laws, humans can break the rules.
In light of reflexivity, whatever actions a law department manager takes set off responses in the perceptions, beliefs, and behaviors of people in the law department, in the company as a whole, and in outside counsel. The fact of reflexivity implies a basic limitation in our ability to control and predict the social world.
Perhaps depressing for some managers, since it means that they can’t control what happens after they issue a command, but the upside of reflexivity is that people can cope with change and pressure and often exceed expectations