Rochester Institute of Technology
Polarity Thinking: A Look across RIT
Margaret Seidler, MPA, Polarity Management Master
www.mypowersurge.com
Material based on work of Barry Johnson, PhD, Founder of Polarity Partnerships, LLC
Copyright © PMA 2002
Polarity Map ™
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Preferences
Instructions: In your handout, notice that the two
columns are related. The items in the left column are
related to the corresponding item in the right column.
Go through the list and circle the alternative you prefer.
The one on the left or the one on the right.
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Session Purpose
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•
•
•
Transfer your personal learning to organizational
opportunities and challenges
Experience a more thorough examination of chronic,
complex issues
Reveal connections between opposing views in the
name of a Greater Purpose that is unifying
Support your understanding and ability to ask
questions/make contributions with difficult issues
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The Value of Either/Or Problem Solving
Positive results from Either/Or Thinking
Negative results from rejecting Either/Or
Thinking
Either/Or Thinking is essential for one generation
to pass key elements of its culture on to the
next generation:
Without Either/Or Thinking, one generation could
not pass key elements of its culture to the
next generation:
1.
Language – How do you spell ________?
2.
3.
1.
Can’t learn Language
Mathematics – 4+4= _____ ?
2.
Can’t learn Mathematics
History – Who was the conqueror of
Mexico?
Bernal Diaz del Castillo ____?
Cuauhtemoc ____?
Hernan Cortez ____?
Benito Juarez ____ ?
3.
Have no sense of History
4.
Do not understand the basics of how the
world works.
5.
No moral compass – don’t know the
difference between right and wrong.
4.
Science – Why do apples fall down off trees
rather than up? _____________________
Two important results from getting the right
answer:
5.
Morals – According to many cultures and
religions murder is:
•
Success and rewards = “A” grades etc.
•
When you are right, those who disagree with
you are wrong.
Right ____ Wrong ____
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Solution
Problem
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Solution
Problem
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Competitive Advantage
VALUES
2
• Entrepreneurial Initiative
• Speed and responsiveness
• Business unit freedom and
innovation
• Business unit recognition
Autonomous
Business Units
•
•
•
•
Silos – isolation of the units
Excess competition
Inequality between the units
Redundancies
Problem
•
•
•
•
Solution
Integration of business units
Collaboration and mutual support
Equality and mutuality
Efficiencies of coordination
Integrated
Business Units
3
• Bureaucracy and red tape
• Slow and unresponsive
• Excess conformity and lack of
innovation
• Lack of unit recognition
Fears
1
Can’t Compete
Competitive Advantage
VALUES
VALUES
Solution
•
•
•
•
Entrepreneurial Initiative
Business unit creativity
Business unit freedom
Business unit recognition
•
•
•
•
Integration of business units
Collaboration and mutual support
Equality and mutuality
Efficiencies of coordination
Integrated
Business Units
Autonomous
Business Units
FEARS
•
•
•
•
Silos – isolation of the units
Excess competition
Inequality between the units
Redundancies
FEARS
•
•
•
•
Bureaucracy and red tape
Lack of business unit creativity
Excess conformity
Lack of unit recognition
Problem
Can’t Compete
3
Competitive Advantage
VALUES
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Entrepreneurial Initiative
Speed and responsiveness
Business unit freedom & innovation
Business unit recognition
Autonomous
Business Units
FEARS
•
•
•
•
VALUES
Silos – isolation of the units
Excess competition
Inequality between the units
Redundancies
Integration of business units
Collaboration and mutual support
Equality and mutuality
Efficiencies of coordination
Integrated
Business Units
and
FEARS
• Bureaucracy and red tape
• Slow and unresponsive
• Excess conformity and lack of
innovation
• Lack of unit recognition
Can’t Compete
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Putting Polarity Thinking to Work
See It
Map It
Tap It - #1 Assess Present
Realities
Tap It - # 2 Action Steps
Tap It - #3 Early Warnings
Continue Tapping - #1, 2, 3
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Organizational Preferences
Student Centered and Professional Development &
Scholarship Centered
Innovation and Traditional Ways
Flexibility and Structure
Teamwork/Collaboration and Individual Initiative
Cross-college Divisions and My Department
Growth of Grants and Quality of Grant Work
Amenities and Academics
Teaching and Learning
Technology Focus and Research Focus
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Conflict Issue
What I
want
What they
don’t want
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What they
want
What I
don’t want
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Complex Issues can cause
Conflict…
•
•
•
•
Get winners and losers.
Lose sight of the big picture.
Stop listening to the “other” side.
Limit possibilities and options because we are
focused on being “right.”
• Can engender anger, resentment, even hate.
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How to deal with Complex or
Conflicting Issues
• Articulate a Goal “Greater Purpose” of common
interest (At the end of the day, we all want…)
• Recognize that multiple viewpoints exist and are
essential
• Understand how to get the best of differences
• Consciously manage the tension over time
• Bring awareness of the complexity in a simple way
(Introduce Polarity Thinking)
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5
Higher Common Purpose
What I
want
Self
What they
Don’t want
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What they
want
Other
What I
Don’t want
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11 Important Organizational Polarities
3 Organizational Polarities
From Polarity Management Associates
Centralized Coordination AND Decentralized Initiatives
Recognize the Individual AND Recognize the Team
Reduce Cost AND Improve Quality
Competing with Others AND Collaborating with Others
Stability AND Change
Celebrating Our Differences AND Celebrating Our Commonalities
Care for My Part of the Organization AND Care for the Whole Organization
Showing Respect for Every Person AND Showing Respect Based on Performance
Getting the Job Done (task) AND Building Relationships
Taking Care of the Organization AND Taking Care of the Customer
Work AND Home
7 Organizational Polarities
From Managing on the Edge by Richard Tanner Pascale
(Left column = the 7 areas of “Excellence” from In Search of Excellence)
Strategy ……...Planned AND Opportunistic
Structure…..….Elitist AND Pluralistic
Systems..……..Mandatory AND Discretionary
Style…………..Managerial AND Transformational
Staff…………..Collegiality AND Individuality
Shared Values…Hard Minds AND Soft Hearts
Skills…………..Maximize AND Meta-mize
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From The Three Tensions
by Dominic Dodd and Ken Favaro
Profitability AND Growth
Today AND Tomorrow
The Whole AND The Parts
1 Organizational Polarity
From Built to Last by Collins and Porras
Preserve the Core AND Stimulate Progress
10 Strategic Management Polarities
From Strategy Synthesis by Bob de Wit and Ron Meyer
Logic AND Creativity
Deliberateness AND Emergentness
Revolution AND Evolution
Markets AND Resources
Responsiveness AND Synergy
Competition AND Collaboration
Compliance AND Choice
Control AND Chaos
Globalization AND Localization
Profitability AND Responsibility
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1994
Built to Last…
The Genius of the
“And”
By Jim Collins &
Jerry Porras
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PRESERVE
Core Values
Core Purpose
CHANGE
Cultural &
Operating
practices,
Goals &
strategies
17
High Performing Organization
Traditionalists
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and
Low Performing Organization
Pioneers
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Value of Differences
Traditionalists
– Honor the past
– Celebrate successes
– Strong connection to
core purpose
– Risk adverse
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Pioneers
– See what “can” be
– Seek to try different
approaches
– Recognize the need
for change
– Will take risk to
improve
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The Polarity of People at Work
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•Predictable,
comfortable
•Build momentum on
current work
•Avoid unnecessary risk
Boring, stuck
Neglect the long term
picture
Hide from things that
are broken
•+
•Fresh new ideas, excited
•Innovate for the future
•Fix what is broken
Chaotic, loss of focus
Overwhelmed by change
Risky (fix anything AND
everything – no matter
need)
Pioneers
Traditionalists
•+
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Polarity Thinking enhances
Our ability to Identify and Appreciate our Past
and Anticipate our Future.
To:
To:
An historical strength
which leads to the
downside below.
Stability
From:
Problem
Present State
Solution
Preferred Future
Change
Unanticipated
Consequences
New Problem
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Key Points
1. Every change effort is part of a polarity energy
system.
2. Treating a polarity as if it were a problem to solve
a. Reduces the attainability
b. Slows down the process by increasing resistance
c. Even if the resistance is overcome, the goal of the change
effort is inherently unsustainable
3. If you want to guarantee the failure of a change
effort, tie it to one pole of a polarity. If you want
success, tie it to both poles
4. Because polarities are indestructible, any polarity
you identify will be a solid base on which to build a
sustainable change and a sustainable organization.
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Taking it Home!
1.
What practical applications do you see for polarity methods?
2.
How will you take this back?
3.
What steps can you take within the coming summer break,
new school year?
4.
Who can you join with to make this happen?
5.
What's likely to get in your way of what you see as possible
now at the end of this session, and how can you best
address that now and anticipate/find support?
Copyright © PMA 2002
Polarity Map ™
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Thank You!
Margaret Seidler
Author of Power Surge
For more info go to…
www.mypowersurge.com
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