Imagine you have the opportunity to champion a transformative change in your organisation. Resources are not a problem; leaders are supportive of the change and you have a great team to work with. You scout for the most reputable consultant to facilitate the change using a recognised model. But alas, when it comes to implementation, you are on your own. Everyone goes back to “doing things the way they have always been done”. You watch helplessly as your “must do” project joins hundreds of others in the organisation’s must do’ graveyard. You struggle to understand how others fail to recognise the brilliance of the ‘solution’ and the benefits it would bring to the organisation.
Not all issues are ‘problems’ to solve. Most ongoing chronic issues in individuals, teams and organisations are polarities to manage. They are unavoidable, unsolvable and are paradoxical in nature meaning they show up as interdependent pairs that need each other over time to maintain and gain performance. Seeing one without the other means you only know half the picture. Polarities are the hardest dilemmas we face. Attempting to address them with traditional problem-solving skills only makes things worse. For example, Transformation cannot exist without Continuity, Decentralisation cannot succeed without Centralisation, the Self can only exist in relation to Others, Mergers will fail if you do not see and leverage the two cultures involved, and so on. There is a significant advantage for those leaders, teams or organisations that can distinguish between a problem to solve and a polarity to manage and are effective with both.