Harnessing the Energy of Opposites

How do today’s leaders create profound innovation in the face of complexity? According to an executive report by the IBM Institute for Business Value, they do it by “embracing dynamic tensions.”

In a report released in July, "Cultivating organizational creativity in an age of complexity," Barbara J. Lombardo and Daniel John Roddy assert that “leaders who embrace the dynamic tension between creative disruption and operational efficiency can create new models of extraordinary value. . . . By harnessing the energy of opposites, creative leaders and their organizations can benefit from new assumptions that replace less effective ‘either/or’ approaches.”
. . . 
The report lists seven key tensions that leaders can creatively optimize to create innovative breakthroughs:
[Here are two of them]
Operational Efficiency and Creative Disruption: “Complex systems (for example, the human body) are able to adapt in an orderly fashion to unexpected challenges because their many distinctive parts work smoothly together”

Business, Society, and the Environment: “Truly sustainable growth and profitability comes from solutions that address the needs of society and the environment”
. . . 
The body of work known as “polarity thinking” (or “polarity management”), pioneered by Dr. Barry Johnson, provides a practical and sophisticated method for leveraging dynamic tensions (or polarities). Polarities are situations ... in which both conflicting points of view are true. When leaders manage this ongoing, natural tension, they can often channel it into a creative synergy that leads to superior outcomes.


Featured in Data Storytelling for Disruptors
Shared publiclyView activity