Twenty years research … or 2 minutes with a contract manager
“Optimism is the enemy of action”, according to a recent article in The Atlantic Magazine.
The article reviews a recent book by Dr. Gabriele Oetiggen which questions the benefits of positive thinking. Based on some 20 years of study, Dr. Oetiggen concludes that ‘positive thinking’ often equates to unbridled optimism and leads to a failure to recognize or address obstacles. She therefore introduces a new concept which she calls ‘mental contrasting’.
It seems to me that any experienced contract or commercial manager will already be familiar with this particular syndrome. Indeed, any successful business already addresses the issues highlighted by Dr. Oetiggen through its organizational structure and management systems. Groups such as Sales are recruited and paid to be optimists; commercial staff in contracts, legal and finance are there to address realities. The key is of course to achieve balance – or ‘mental contrasting’.
Problems arise mostly when senior management is over-optimistic and either does not seek or chooses to ignore commercial advice. This again has been identified on a number of occasions, including work undertaken by ICCPM in partnership with IACCM, which led to a paper, ‘The Conspiracy of Optimism”. The good news is, it did not take 20 years, a book, or a new nomenclature to identify the issues!