How do we solve the most vexing problems in leadership? We don't, because some are not problems to solve.
Every leader is familiar with those vexing debates that hang around for years and never get resolved. Some call them dilemmas, unsolvable problems, or simply issues. We call them 'polarities'. Polarities can't be fixed and they never go away. In fact, trying to fix them only wastes time, money, and energy, and results in decisions that never get made and 'flavour of the month' fixes. But they can be leveraged. And leveraging them well produces virtuous cycles of engagement and innovation.
Russ Gaskin shared the 'best kept secret in management' - Polarity Thinking - a reliable method for seeing, mapping and leverage polarity tensions that is transforming federal agencies, public companies, and unions, and even fostering bipartisan policy development in the US Congress.
While polarity management helps anyone manage their personal and interpersonal conflicts better, it is especially helpful for organisational leaders and managers. We find that many leaders are struggling with several polarities; in particular right now: short-term and long-term, structure and flexibility, focus on money and focus on mission, and continuity and innovation.
Russ Gaskin is a Washington DC based social entrepreneur, consultant, and teacher who helps diverse groups of people solve tough problems together and leverage their differences for deep innovation and engagement. Through his consulting practice, CoCreative, Russ helps corporate, public sector and non-profit clients develop breakthrough solutions to complex challenges through creative, design-oriented engagements. He has helped diverse clients from Bristol-Myers Squibb to the National Education Association to the Gates Foundation leverage deep strategic tensions to create new models of social value creation.