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Strategy is about forward-looking vision and ideas i. This strategy orientation is often cited as one of the major reasons for the execution gap e. Leinwand and Carmichael, , while lack of motivation on the execution side is another e. McChesney, Covey and Huling, , pp. It is important to point out that the ego does not organise or structure execution; it rather implements the organising factors that the animus comes up with. Organising and structuring are creative acts. Jungian psychology holds that creativity fundamentally derives from the collective unconscious Jung, CW15 , para.

It is often assumed that the ego, as the centre of consciousness, does the reality-testing. However, the principal function of the ego is to determine what enters the centre of consciousness, and thus, as pointed out above, the ego only implements what the archetype, with which it currently identifies more, comes up with.

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Thus, it is the ego and animus together that constitute the reality principle, which is essential for execution of a project. When the anima and animus are working together as functional syzygy, this syzygy becomes available to both strategy and execution. It brings imaginal strategy and concern for the real world together and integrates them into a whole, thus making strategy more realistic and flexible and thus more in touch with execution. This syzygy activates and motivates the ego, which then implements what the syzygy comes up with.

The anima side of the syzygy creates a pervasive strategic attitude capable of supplying the necessary motivation to sustain the project through the everyday whirl of business routines while the animus side directs the project to move ahead, to change and possibly become something entirely different as that execution proceeds.

Without this functional syzygy, all motivational tactics would be merely short-lived. Thus, through this syzygy, strategy contains within it the execution aspect through the animus and its connection with the reality-principle , and execution contains the motivating strategic aspect through the anima and its deep connection with unconscious creativity , meaning that the presence of the syzygy narrows the execution gap. The impact of these archetypes can be illustrated using the example of start-up companies, which I use because the dynamics of start-up culture demonstrate the patterns in the execution gap particularly vividly.

That is to say, they exhibit the divergence between inspiration and vision largely in the form of a new idea and execution in a characteristically acute way. As the driving force behind the current trends of western economic development, start-ups are promising yet demanding and risky enterprises: research shows that at least 75 per cent of start-ups fail, with investors losing all their money in per cent of cases Cage, There are no hard and fast rules to defining a start-up, and hence the definitions are many and often conflicting.

Contrary to these definitions, co-founder of an influential start-up accelerator Y Combinator, Paul Graham, states that start-ups are defined in terms of exponential growth Graham, and it is this that distinguishes a newly founded business from a start-up. For example, what distinguishes Google from a barbershop is not that its founders were extraordinarily hard-working or lucky or both; the difference is that the barbershop cannot scale up, while Google has the ability to attract a large market and thus experience high growth rates.

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Thus, Graham identifies two conditions necessary for a start-up: 1 a product with a large potential market; 2 the ability to reach and accommodate this market. Apart from emphasising the human element in start-up culture, the definition also specifies that the key factor required for their development and operation is extreme uncertainty, which includes not only market conditions but also lack of awareness of who their customer is, what their product will be or which obstacles they will have to overcome.

It is these features that distinguish start-ups from what could be called more traditional business models and which are responsible for significantly redefining business operations. By presenting a formidable challenge to well-established companies e. Nokia , the start-up mentality with its emphasis on continuous innovation has integrated itself into the very matrix of the business domain. The amount of time for which a company can hold on to its earlier innovation has shrunk considerably, making even the most well-established businesses heavily dependent on innovation to ensure their future survival.

My argument is that the concepts of anima and animus are useful tools for understanding the unconscious psychological structures behind start-up activity that contribute significantly to success or failure. Thus, it is important to see how they pull the psyche in certain directions i.

The Feminine Case

As mentioned earlier, Jungian psychology states that creativity comes from sources deep in our collective unconscious. It inspires us, opens up a range of possibilities and energises and excites us so that everything seems possible and within reach. We could say that the anima makes us fall in love with an idea and thus pulls our psyche in the direction of heightened, even wild, imagination and creative energies.

This process of idea-formation is important, since, although it may appear albeit not necessarily to us that we lose touch with reality in such moments of inspiration, this is when our ideas become conscious, begin to take shape and come alive. What, however, might equally happen at this initial stage of idea creation is that we get caught up in an idea and even become sick with it. The idea can seduce and enslave us, as in the case of identification with our idea.

This unconscious identification can manifest as all types of defensiveness in relation to the idea, including the refusal to put it to vigorous reality testing.


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There may be a certain determination and rigidity of attitude: the idea is great and it must work. Here, the inspiring person may use the example of Twitter, which was also unprofitable for a long time Smorodnikova, At later stages, when it becomes apparent that the market is not responding, this rigidity contributes to the temptation to start adding further features to the product in order to perfect it.

In contrast, an alternative to this behaviour is to pivot, which is a common practice in start-ups. Pivoting usually occurs when the current business model is not working and the founders thus resort to plan B. It is often the result of desperation, arising out of the urgency to change things before the resources run out.

However, it is also about attuning to the voice of customers, and, by aiming to deliver the product that they want, forgoing initial preferences about expanding or changing the target markets Ries, , p.

The Nature of Creativity and The Courage to Create

Being in the grip of the anima means that new possibilities are overlooked and no pivots are undertaken; thus, the project loses momentum. As a result of this unconscious identification with the anima, we move further and further away from reality and begin to like our idea and vision more than the market, its users and their problems. What is important at the stage of idea-formation is that one does not become seduced by the anima and cling to the inspired idea at all costs.

Separation i. A degree of strong anima identification would be inevitable and even desirable in some cases, but it is the dynamic of identification that becomes a problem. A degree of strong identification ensures the required per cent commitment, perseverance and even stubbornness. The other side of this identification, however, is that it can, especially under certain unfavourable circumstances, quickly spin out of control and drag a person with it.


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  • The idea in the head may become bigger and stronger, drawing more and more resources towards itself. In its demand for complete dedication, as in the case of a possessive lover who stops at nothing short of complete ownership of the object of desire, it might eventually suck all the blood and exhaust the life-force, throwing a person into an abyss of despair and self-deprecation.

    The short history of start-ups has already witnessed many painful examples of this happening, including cases of suicide Carson, What are the roots of this identification? The anima presents us with a brilliant idea, which has vast potential. Most importantly, however, it represents us in potential, where we stand for something that we are not at the moment.

    In that respect, it gives us a new identity. When we are presented with an idea by the anima-muse, we are suddenly removed from our mundane lives and transformed into the owner of some precious jewel or a hero galloping off on some glorious mission slaying dragons, saving princesses and acquiring kingdoms.

    The anima ensures that all this will feel real, as it is not only the source of creativity in giving us ideas, but is also the master of grandiose illusions and deceptions. One of the most damaging aspects of the anima is her tendency to whisper sweetly in our ear that we are special and that our ideas matter.

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    Once the ego takes up this anima suggestion and locks it, as a sacred treasure, in a safe, that precious idea begins to dictate directions. Much of what the anima says or does in the background is barely detectable by the ego, which then suffers intolerably: on the one hand, there is a belief that guides all its actions, while on the other there is reality which often does not match this belief and instead requires a very different set of skills and resources. The negative aspect of the anima with its powerfully charged conviction that the idea is everything features prominently in the start-up environment.

    If we look at the chart below, we can see how this anima-inspired Silicon Valley version of the Cinderella story can go bust: by far the top reason for start-up failure is a lack of market need for the product. However, looking at the chart, it is possible to say that fascination with the idea not only features prominently in the first item on the graph, but is also implicit in most of the other factors responsible for failure, such as running out of resources or burning out.

    The observation that clinging to pet ideas could, in fact, kill start-ups and often effectively destroys the lives of their founders, points to the insight that the idea itself is not the most significant aspect of a successful start-up; what matters is how it is executed and how the eventual product is received by the market Cooper and Vlaskovits, , p. The reason many start-ups die is because business creativity does not comprise an aspect of the self-exploration or self-realisation process as it does in art, for example , but is primarily concerned with satisfying the rather specific needs of the market.

    Thus, whereas the first encounter with the anima can be overwhelming, it is important to have a second and more conscious encounter. The anima does not operate in a linear fashion, but in terms of emotionally charged images. It is volatile and in need of containment.

    The animus, on the other hand, brings a drive toward order, rationality, reality-testing and know-how. It is responsible for the drive toward the structured development of an idea and therefore pushes for market research and will generally act to check the idea against market reality: is the market big enough?

    Is there a need for this product? How may the incumbents respond to our intervention? Thus, the animus interferes with the state of unconscious identification with the idea and with all the fantasies built around it. While the anima comes from the realm of the Mothers and can draw us back into the world of images and potentials Jung, CW15 , para. In this way, it adds energy in the form of structure and order and brings logical direction to the idea, thus helping it to form, develop, mature and scatter the seeds further.

    Quite often what is needed is both big vision and small-scale steps. When the anima and animus are working together as the functional syzygy, work has meaning and thus the ego can sustain the necessary motivation throughout the project. It is this syzygy that activates and motivates the ego. The ego, being responsible for the actual execution of the task, mobilises the necessary resources to contain and persevere through the difficulties, and essentially allows for work to be conducted efficiently. It is not a perfect equilibrium, even once established, since the ego will still inevitably identify slightly more with the anima on some occasions and with the animus on others, thus causing the syzygy to change its character configuration or even collapse.

    What is most important is that the ego does not claim creativity for itself. Instead, it invites further creativity and development. When a certain vision of a product is conceived, there is no insistence on how to use it. The developers look carefully to observe its actual usage patterns in the business environment, and they are flexible enough to pivot when a major pattern becomes evident. To conclude my argument, I would like to use the story of Pinterest to illustrate the workings of the anima and animus and their syzygy.

    The story of the company, like every story, is multidimensional and thus cannot be captured fully by any single narrative. What follows only claims to show the relevance of the anima and animus archetypes as important determinants in the formation of the company. In the spring of , Pinterest became an overnight success.

    His own childhood hobby, which he still holds dear to his heart, was collecting butterflies. Thus, he wanted to create a website that allowed people to explore and share their hobbies. Facebook Twitter Pinterest Share. Description Reviews More Details. Description The Feminine Case is a collection of papers that debate the issue of gender from a Jungian perspective. Particular attention is paid to the discussion of Jung's "transcendent function" and what this offers women in the process of individualisation. Attention is also given to the revisionist work of James Hillman and to relevant issues found within post-Lacanian critique, principally in the works of Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray and Helene Cixous.

    The chapters deal with a range of issues and aim to promote further discussion. One theme discussed in the book is the way in which feminine language is formed within a masculine domain and how it can and is changing. Works of literature, notably those of Charlotte Bronte and The Tempest, are explored and examined in conjunction with Jungian themes.

    The feminine in relation to the maternal, and in its lack of relation to the divine, are two other engaging topics discussed in this volume. This collection involves the reader in a welcome debate on the role of the feminine in the Jungian world. Free Returns We hope you are delighted with everything you buy from us. However, if you are not, we will refund or replace your order up to 30 days after purchase.