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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Constructive Dissatisfaction



I came across the phrase “constructive dissatisfaction” while listening to Knowledge@Wharton podcast. It was on the topic of the four behaviors that define successful leaders where one of the CEOs defined his job is not to please the three groups of stakeholders (shareholders, customers and employees) but instead to keep all of them constructively dissatisfied.

At first I find it strange that he should say that but later decided that it makes sense, only those who are constructively dissatisfied will seek change and find ways to improve. If we are already happy and contented with what we already have then we will stay within our comfort zone. Many organizations like Blockbuster and Kodak have failed because of their failure to adapt and change. They remained within their comfort zone for too long.

We can also create the feeling of constructive dissatisfaction so that we are motivated to make changes in our lives and look for opportunities to improve. Simple dissatisfaction does not work since such feelings will just leave us feeling helpless and frustrated. I suppose the best way would be to direct the dissatisfaction towards action and ideas to address the source of the dissatisfaction.

I like systems and processes and found the best approach is to first identify all the different sources of dissatisfaction, break it down to smaller pieces and select and focus on one at a time. This may be time consuming but this approach has a higher chances of producing results (especially if we select the right thing to focus on).

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