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Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems Paperback – June 12, 2014
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About the Author
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. The Polarity Management Map® and initial set of principles emerged out of his work in 1975. 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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Top customer reviews
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This is a very straight forward book that I recommend as a read-ahead or work book for any group seeking to radically evolve their internal decision making processes away from the current standard of "I talk, you listen; I decide, you obey." It has clear charts, the right amount of white space, and I put it down thinking very well of the book.
Panarchy is an evolution of the whole systems approach to anything, with the clarity and integrity of FEEDBACK LOOPS among the elements being the core of any successful system. If everyone does not talk; if everyone does not listen; if everyone does not decide; if everyone does not act in harmonization with all others, system failure is inevitable.
Interesting to me, because Harrison Owen is a friend and mentor, this book is a restatement, in panarchic terms, of his path-finding work, Open Space Technology: A User's Guide--I also recommend his more recent Wave Rider: Leadership for High Performance in a Self-Organizing World.
I focus a lot on INTEGRITY and am well pleased that that single word is the most frequently searched term at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, yielding my several posts on the subject. The USA specifically, but governments, corporations, academia, non-profits, even civil society elements such as Occupy, labor unions, and religions, have all lost whatever semblance of integrity they might once have possessed.
This book does a very fine job of illuminating how both INDIVIDUALS **and** ORGANIZATIONS must have integrity and must be committed to the panarchic system of connectedness, resistance, release, reorganization, exploitation, conservation, and repeat toward optimal potential in the face of any given set of circumstances.
In other words, Integrity is not about sticking to what you know (all the polarities), it is about being open at all times to inputs, about being engaged at all times with all stakeholders, and about seeking mutually beneficial outcomes. I deal with a lot of people who are arrogant, ignorant, generally have way more authority than they merit, having slimed their way to the top in a system that rewards uncontroversial average--what none of them get is that LISTENING is remedial education for those who stopped learning 20 years ago, and that in LISTENING lies the basis for meeting halfway and understanding that the "party line" is flawed and needs fixing.
The books includes seven supplements, illustrated short stories, and they are one reason I recommend this book as a read-ahead for conferences or meetings.
In an interesting and valuable way, this book sits at the cross section of doing democracy, of evolutionary consciousness, of citizen and indigenous wisdom, of management and innovation, of leadership and political activism. It is generic in its utility, and I say that intending it as a recommendation.
Here are a few other books that come to mind as useful in this book's context, for those who would aspire to nurture the community into the 21st century.
Radical Man: The Process of Psycho-Social Development
The exemplar: The exemplary performer in the age of productivity
The Knowledge Executive
The Tao of Democracy: Using co-intelligence to create a world that works for all
Society's Breakthrough!: Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People
Doing Democracy: The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements
Conscious Evolution: Awakening Our Social Potential
See my other 1800 reviews, all leading back to Amazon, at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog. See especially my two lists of books reviews, both easily found online:
Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Positive)
Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Negative)
THE OPEN SOURCE EVERYTHING MANIFESTO: Transparency, Truth & Trust
If one can accept the notion that there are many unsolvable problems, the reader can take solace in becoming engaged with the author's thorough explanation of how to identify and manage these polarities. By doing so, the vignettes described are energizing and provide teachable moments.
Some of the lessons of the book are:
We are taught to look at both the upside and downside of polarities.
We see and feel what Johnson calls the `tradition bearing' and `crusading' patterns of behavior.
We see and feel that by considering at all sides of a situation, we can participate in a healthy dance between them.
We rush `to be right' rather than becoming `accurate and complete.'
While some of the concepts are at first difficult to grasp, paradoxically, by following the principles of polarity management itself, the lessons learned can be very powerful and worth the journey.
The model & the explanation works really well in the work environment when trying to explain to people that many things are not solvable, they are part of the cycle of business & life. It also works wonderfully with life stuff.
I recommend this book to others regularly.