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Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems Paperback – June 12, 2014
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It makes a lot of sense and is a pretty straightforward concept.
Making it work in reality is the big challenge!
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.
Using PM would have a manager consider the upside for both "poles" and do her best to keep the decision-making in a best of both worlds status, as long as can be managed. In theory, I do think this is an interesting way of discussing pole-based issues. The book is easily twice as long as it should be and I didn't find the examples to be terribly relevant.
Another issue to bring up is that PM exists on the basis that there are two poles. This can limit decision-making and crush creativity.
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.