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The Solution

Escaping The Survival Trap requires answering this question: What do we do when doing more of the same is not enough? When more ceases to be enough, a different approach is required.

Unlike Sisyphus's predicament, the good news is that we have a say on whether we remain stuck in The Survival Trap. What if one solution—one issue—is the central concern in this trap, with many different manifestations?

What if we went beyond that and discovered not only that there is one solution, but a solution that affects not only economic implications of The Survival Trap but all other issues related to this vicious cycle? Is there one answer that can integrate all of that?

What is that one answer driving all of these other problems?


Mindsets provide the key to escaping The Survival Trap.

In each one of these scenarios, there is one common issue—the stakeholders above harbor mindsets that impact their actions. We must start with mindsets and ask hard questions about the thinking underlying our actions. We are then able to engage in what Argyris and Schön call double-loop learning. In a nutshell, double-loop learning occurs when stakeholder or organizations correct errors by revisiting the underlying norms, policies and objectives.11 We expand this idea in our discussion of mindsets in Chapter 3, "Why Mindsets Matter."

When we engage in double-loop learning, we are able to change our mindsets and as a result take new actions that go outside established patterns. Such double-loop learning is the key to escaping The Survival Trap.

Focusing solely on "operating reality" leads stakeholders to consider generic or massive solutions, to shift the locus of responsibility, and ultimately to reinforce feelings of powerlessness. Instead of confronting reality, one ends up shifting responsibility for the challenges one faces. Focusing on mindset, however, invites stakeholders to recognize the central role individuals play in bringing change to massive systems. That realization is powerful because it makes substantial change possible.

Figure 1.3 illustrates how stakeholders can lead the escape out of The Survival Trap by focusing on mindsets instead of being overly reactive to the context. It makes us question our assumptions about the situation we are facing while bringing forward hard questions about context, actions, and results that can help move us out of this vicious cycle.

Figure 1.3

Figure 1.3 Escaping The Survival Trap

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