Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems


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Polarity Management presents a unique model and set of principles that will challenge you to look at situations in new ways. Also included are exercises to strengthen your skills, and case studies to help you begin applying the model to your own unsolvable problems. For the past 35 years, Barry Johnson has been working to help create organizations that are good places to work, to own, to do business with and to have in the community.

In the process he has founded 5 organizations.

Barry is regarded as both an effective consultant and leading thinker in the management field. Since then he has continued to develop the map, principles with a variety of organizations all over the world. Barry's title Polarity Management is his work with polarities dilemmas, paradox and presents a unique model and set of principles based on that will challenge you to look at situations in new ways. Polarity Management is a top selling and widely referenced University level text that is applicable for both higher education and corporate learning.

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Paperback or Softback. Seller Inventory BBS Book Description Condition: New. Seller Inventory n. This book is printed on demand. A tool to help develop this strategy is the Polarity Management Map. A Polarity Management Map involves creating a four-quadrant matrix.

Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems

First you get stakeholders in one room to identify positive and negative outcomes in each of the four quadrants. When tackling an unsolvable problem with a problem-solving technique, organization often ignore one side of the matrix at the expense of another. Thus, in looking at the matrix they move from the positive quadrant of one side to the negative quadrant of the same side.

With the dilemma and positive and negative outcomes mapped into the four quadrants, the group must develop a plan to achieve the upside of the matrix, achieving positive outcomes of both quality and revenue but not solutioning either and prevent movement to the downside quadrants of the matrix.

Quality Revenue Negative Results. Your email address will not be published. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.

Is the problem ongoing? Imagine you get a big project and a team is formed to work on it. At first, the project lead gives everyone tasks and they all set out to execute. They are free to make the decisions they need to. After a few weeks, the team gets together and people start complaining. There is no cohesion or buy-in among the team. The team begins devolving into secret resentment and disengagement, if not outright bickering. Finally, the tension reaches a tipping point. Everyone is either livid or disengaged. Everyone agrees they need more coherence.

Polarity Coaching with Barry Johnson - International Coaching Week

They want to move in lock step as one unit, rather than as disparate parts. So they all agree: from now on, they are going to make decisions by consensus. Decisions take forever to make. The most creative ideas are stamped out in favor of more stale, middle-of-the-road approaches. The team suddenly realizes that making decisions by consensus is overly burdensome.

Community, Covenant, and Polarity Management | Joshua Rabin | The Blogs

So they now empower everyone to make decisions on their own. The team moves from one pole to another. In one moment, they value collaboration. In the next, they value autonomy. They are constantly moving toward a definitive solution and away from what they deem to be the problem. This same dynamic is taking place all around us, at all times, on a range of different issues.


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We go from planning to action to planning to action, from personal growth to acceptance of who we are to personal growth, from centralization to decentralization to centralization, from asking for compassion to demanding accountability back to compassion, from capitalism to socialism to capitalism. In this dynamic, we never find a good solution.

We never get what we need because we believe that there is one clear, simple answer to our problems. In truth, these problems are unsolvable.

Polarity Management

They are wicked problems. Neither autonomy nor collaboration is better than the other. Both are essential. Both must be consciously and deliberately balanced with one another from moment to moment.

Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems
Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems
Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems
Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems
Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems

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