Innovation Leadership through Polarity Dynamics
How often do you see things that others do not? Improving performance, decreasing error, and fostering standards and controls are necessary in health care today, however each of us should be curious and sensitive to the contradictions, connections, and coincidences that we experience.
Dan Pesut, PhD, RN, FAAN
Strategic Foresight Consulting and Coaching
I admire and appreciate the work of Gary Klein who authored the book, Seeing What Other’s Don’t: The Remarkable Ways We Gain Insight (2013, Public Affairs, NY). Klein notes that most performance improvement models involve a focus on decreasing errors and uncertainties through standards, controls, documentation, checklists, reviews, rigors, and procedures. Sound familiar?
Insights and innovations, on the other hand, come from curiously grappling with contradictions, connections, coincidences. Klein posits that an insight is an unexpected shift to a better story for understanding how things work and can lead to changes in how we understand, act, feel and desire. Wrestling with contradictions, and connections and gaining insight is often catalyzed by creative desperation -- when the need to reconcile opposite or contrary experiences or understandings results in the creation of something new or innovative that better solves a problem or helps reconcile competing beliefs or frames of reference aka innovation. Failure to gain insight is often characterized by a passive stance, lack of experience, concrete reasoning, and an adherence to flawed beliefs. Achieving insights requires experience, an active stance, playful reasoning, and a willingness to question long held assumptions and beliefs through understanding and mastery of polarity dynamics, polarity intelligence, and polarity management.
How often do you see things that others do not? How often or frequently do you try to make sense of contradictions, connections and competing ideas, understandings, stances, or frames of references in your professional practice? To what degree do you apply curiosity and creativity to foster insight development in yourself and others? Do you think cultivation of insight is important to your education, practice, research and innovation leadership skill set?
Polarity management is a key innovation leadership skill that assists individuals, groups, teams, and organizations to define and work through contradictions, connections, and polarity dynamics. Barry Johnson, is the father of polarity management and he has educated an influenced a number of leaders in nursing and health care to develop polarity intelligence and pay attention to the missing logics that are embedded in a number of health care challenges.
Improving performance, decreasing error, and fostering standards and controls are necessary in health care today, however each of us should be curious and sensitive to the contradictions, connections, and coincidences that we experience. Subjecting those experiences to playful reasoning, and polarity management can lead to innovation insights and a better story for understanding how things work. Set an intention to learn more about polarity management and add polarity management to your innovation leadership skill set.
References and Resources
Beach, P. G., & Joyce, J. (2009). Escape from flatland: Using polarity management to coach organizational leaders from a higher perspective. The International Journal of Coaching in Organizations, 7(2), 64-83.
Innovators Dictionary https://www.innovatorsdictionary.com/
Johnson, B. (2020). And: Making a difference by leveraging polarity, paradox, or dilemmas, Volume One: foundations, HRD Press, Amherst, MA.
Johnson, B. (2021). And: Making a difference by leveraging polarity, paradox, or dilemmas, Volume Two Applications (Polarity Partnerships),HRD Press, Amherst, MA.
Johnson, B. (1992). Polarity management: Identifying and managing unsolvable problems. Human Resource Development.
Klein, G. A. (2017). Sources of power: How people make decisions. MIT press.
Klein, G. (2013). Seeing what others don't: The remarkable ways we gain insights. Public Affairs.
Missing Logic https://www.missinglogic.com/
Wesorick, B. L. (2014). Polarity thinking: An essential skill for those leading interprofessional integration. Journal of Interprofessional Healthcare, 1(1), 12.