What if there was a third option?

What if there was a third option?

What if there was a third option?
Posted on January 22, 2020

I am drawn to conceptual thinking, ideation, innovation AND I am motivated by actions, practicality and simplicity which is quite difficult to experience under one umbrella.

Fortunately, Polarity Management certification did just that for me. With the elegant work of Barry Johnson PhD and the excellent delivery of Allison Conte, I now have a practical AND exciting tool that can help organizations, teams and individuals manage seemingly opposing, but actually inter-dependent, values. I feel like a child who is given the key to the “best of two worlds”.

For me, it has always been difficult to live in an "either/or" world that everyone else seemed so comfortable with. I never understood why we had to go strictly with one option and lose the benefits of the other, or chose to mitigate one set of risks while learning to live with the other.

There are times when “either/or” problem-solving skills are required AND there will be times when leveraging “both/and” polarities will be the road to success. Ron Heifetz calls this differentiation Technical vs. Adaptive. AND like many other polarities, we need to be able to perform BOTH.

I am now working with clients to identify, work through and take action to leverage polarities that exist in their worlds. Here are some examples of common polarities:


  • Doing AND Being
  • Active AND Restful
  • Holding on AND Letting Go


  • Clear AND Flexible
  • Action AND Reflection
  • Confidence AND Humility


  • Standardized AND Customized
  • Short-term AND Long-term
  • Tasks AND Relationships

What are some of the polarities that you are working with? How can you leverage them through the power of “both/and” thinking?

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