Paradoxes & The Advance Consultancy

Insight 7 banner


What is it that makes Advance? From my perspective we are a series of paradoxes that does and does not have clear boundaries in what we do and how we do it.

We have defined boundaries when operating with our clients. These usually involve creating a scope of work, committing to a project date or delivering a programme to meet a procurement submission.

The opposite of these clear boundaries is what also defines us. That is, the capability and capacity to generate thinking and application of ideas which inform practice in a dynamic rather then static context. The context in which we and many of our clients operate are, by their very nature, complex and display the characteristics that I associate with paradoxes and complexity.

Collaboration in Alliances, Joint Ventures or Partnerships with multiple stakeholders provide natural tensions and conflicts. It is in this space that I believe Advance delivers our best value where we can apply that which we can define but also work with what we cannot. To succeed and progress effectively in complexity we need to nurture and manage conflict and tension. Without it, the situation or project can lack the direction, clarity or structure required to align its purpose to the benefit and value that stakeholders expect.

Circle pale blue sky blue ALTERNATE

The conflict and tension we need to succeed can also damage and defeat those very objectives. Too much conflict will oppose collaboration and prevent the environment required for successful delivery.

At Advance we need to challenge and support our clients as much as ourselves. To quote Richard Pascale we need to ‘Surf the edge of chaos’ and embrace the tests, characteristics and principles he associates with complexity:

  • Many agents acting in parallel
  • Continuous shuffling building blocks that generate multiple levels of organisation and structure
  • Energy and investment is needed to continuously evolve and develop; if not replenished then vulnerability and weakness will appear
  • A capacity to recognise patterns and able to anticipate the future, learn and therefore anticipate when to change.

These I suggest loosely define us and provides some bounds (“guardrails”) without constraining or limiting what we do and how we do it. We manage and operate within a framework of paradoxes that on one hand push us one way and yet simultaneously pull us the other. We need to move towards the edge of chaos to embrace the uncertainty and ambiguity that this will create (our CATUR model). To be “comfortable with the discomfort” we may feel or experience so that we can define our boundaries and purpose.

We are a series of paradoxes that are needed for positive tension and conflict, which enable us to deliver professional collaboration. Without these paradoxes we would not learn, evolve and develop. The mutual benefit and value I feel and know Advance creates comes from them.

Back to insights