The critical thinking SKILL and how it applies to Schapelle Corby and CEOs

#thinkdifferent - -

In the previous post we explored how successful people manage to better balance the tension between two diametrically opposite requirements or outcomes in order to navigate a more successful course.

Learning this skill is possible, and this little bit of brain gymnastics as your first exercise:

Most countries are facing a crisis of drug abuse. Using drugs is a dangerous and addictive activity that almost invariably causes health and social issues. On balance by most reasonable criteria drug abuse is a bad thing for the individual and their community.

What is the first and obvious response to this scenario?

PAUSE – and think about that.


The typical response is to remove the cause of the problem = drugs.


What is the opposite (maybe even counter-intuitive) response to this scenario?

PAUSE – and think about that.


The opposite response is to make access to drugs easier


Which one is right?

And if your answer is neither/both, you will begin to appreciate the ability that successful people have. You will begin to understand that becoming successful is about resolving and balancing the tension between two opposite course of action.

It is estimated that decriminalisation of drugs would save the US economy alone in excess of $40Bn

Despite having the most stringent rules w.r.t. drug trafficking, the countries of the golden triangle (including Indonesia where Schapelle Corby was convicted for drug trafficking) this is what the Asian Sentinel says:

The government, however, is beginning to learn that massive drug seizures and the threat of capital punishment for trafficking are no more effective in Indonesia than anywhere else in the world.  A study in 10 major cities found four million Indonesians had used illegal drugs, and the country's drug trade was valued at nearly US$4 billion a year, with drugs readily available in schools, karaoke lounges, bars, cafes, discotheques, nightclubs and even in remote villages. More than 15,000 deaths every year are attributed to drug abuse.

So if there is evidence that a punitive does not work anyway AND there is evidence that we will save money going with decriminalisation, does it mean that is a better option?

The answer that you will come up with is hopefully that ‘it depends’. You have to compare legalisation with the impact of increased availability and the extent to which increased availability may impact on the community.

As usual you have the hawkish approach to punish it out of existence and the softer approach to decriminalise.

The Indonesian found that Schapelle attempted to smuggle drugs into the country.

AFP Photo: Sonny Tumbelaka

AFP Photo: Sonny Tumbelaka

The benefit to the Indonesian society was that 4kg of marijuana was NOT smoked. (Statistically it did not deter other smugglers, so that cannot be accrued in the benefits column).

The cost to the Indonesian society was a decade of internment of one prisoner, numerous court cases, reputational damage and (seemingly) serious mental health issues for Schapelle that may well last a lifetime.

The right answer is somewhere in between.

It always does – including those big decisions that you battle with in your company.

Companies fall victim to poor leadership – for example - when they adopt this binary approach to strategy. Corporations seem to perpetually oscillate between centralisation and decentralisation; or between diversification and focussing on the core business.

When a Chief Executive gets booted out, the replacement simply follows the diametrically opposite strategy. He or she lasts a few years, only to be succeeded by someone who reverts to the previous approach – usually with a new label, but the same old strategy nevertheless.

But allow me to give you a practical example.

Marketing departments often follow a strategy of spending money on branding campaigns OR on sales activities. What is more important? What is their job? Is about brand (long-term) or is it about sales (short-term)?

By now you will know the answer: it is about BOTH. You have to deliver sales campaigns that build and strengthen the brand. It is about AND not OR. That is the fundamental tension to resolve for marketers and it is not hard once you practice thinking inclusively as opposed exclusively.

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The SKILL all successful people have

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