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Problem Solving VS. Polarity Management: You need to know the difference!

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Critical Thinking for Supply Chain Leaders - Polarity = An interdependence between two ends of a continuum where both ends represent opposites that NEED to exist to ensure the long-term success of an entity. Presentation compiled by Brian Atwater PhD, CPIM, Jonah & Paul Pittman PhD, CFPIM, CSCP, Jonah

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Problem Solving VS. Polarity Management: You need to know the difference!

  1. 1. Problem Solving VS. Polarity Management: You need to know the difference!
  2. 2. Critical Thinking Tool for SC Leaders Collaborative Planning Forecasting & Replenishment Executive S&OP Polarity Mapping
  3. 3. Polarity An interdependence between two ends of a continuum where both ends represent opposites that NEED to exist to ensure the long-term success of an entity. Too much Carbon Dioxide Too little Oxygen Clean out Carbon Dioxide Get Oxygen Inhale Exhaleand
  4. 4. Example Polarities Competing & Collaborating Individual & Team Inquiry & Advocacy Control & Freedom Consistency & Flexibility Quality & Cost Internal focus & External responsiveness Reflection & Action Home Life & Work Life
  5. 5. Problems versus Polarity  Problems are obstacles, difficulties or challenges with one right answer; or two or more right answers that are independent. Mystery Problems – trying to identify the unknown cause of an undesirable outcome. Different Alternatives – identifying the optimal choice or choices among mutually exclusive (independent) options connected by the word “Or”.  Interdependent Pairs (Polarities) are connected by the word “And”.
  6. 6. Polarity Map A tool used to organize and manage the thinking associated with the two pairs of a polarity. Higher Purpose Deeper Fear Right PoleLeft Pole Positive Aspects of Left Pole Negative Aspects of Left Pole Negative Aspects of Right Pole Positive Aspects of Right Pole AND Action Steps How will we gain or maintain the positive results from focusing on the left pole? What? Who? By When? Measures? Action Steps How will we gain or maintain the positive results from focusing on this right pole? What? Who? By When? Measures? Early Warning Signs Measurable indicators (things you can count) that will let you know that you are getting into the downside of the left pole. Early Warning Signs Measurable indicators (things you can count) that will let you know that you are getting into the downside of the right pole.
  7. 7. How We Typically View a Polarity Positive Aspects of Left Pole Negative Aspects of Right Pole Left Pole Point of View Left RightOR Positive Aspects of Right Pole Right Pole Point of View Left RightOR Negative Aspects of Left Pole AND
  8. 8. Benefits of Polarity Mapping • Provides a simple method for viewing a Polarity from a systemic perspective. • Helps reduce resistance to change • Assists leaders in converting chronic issues into sustainable strengths. • Facilitates crucial conversations (Dialogue) for collaboration and “Win/ Win” outcomes. • Tool for assuring balance among essential elements of a dynamic system. • Effective technique for understanding & managing conflict
  9. 9. Polarities Common to our Profession versus versus versus versus Time Offshoring Cost Efficient Work Budget Onshoring Sustainability Home
  10. 10. Share Your Polarities What are some of the polarities you experience in your position?
  11. 11. Group Exercise: Offshore Supplier/ Onshore Supplier Developing a Polarity Map Part 1 1. Identify as many positives for Offshoring as we can. 2. Identify as many positives of Onshoring as we can. 3. Identify as many negatives of Offshoring as we can. 4. Identify as many negatives of Onshoring as we can.
  12. 12. Group Exercise: Offshore Supplier/ Onshore Supplier Developing a Polarity Map Part 2 1. Identify action steps for the two upper quadrants. 2. Identify early warning signs for the lower quadrants.
  13. 13. Using Polarity Maps to Get Unstuck Lose continuity Lose core values Foolish risk Continuity Core Values Tap past and present wisdom Stagnation Loss of energy Missed opportunities New energy and direction Creativity Tap new wisdom Competitive Advantage Can’t Compete 1 4 ChangeStability 3 2
  14. 14. Top 6 Practices of a Strategic Thinking Leaders 1. Understand there is always more to the story than initially apparent. 2. Consider both the long- and short-term consequences. 3. Recognize that the more you know, the more you don’t know. (Requires humility.) 4. Know that the “obvious” is typically only a symptom of the real problem. 5. Embrace opposing perspectives, recognizing there is value in views which are opposite of your own. 6. Look for the unintended consequences in every action.
  15. 15. Additional Resources • Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems Johnson, Barry, HRD Press, 1996 • http://supplychain.bob.tv/ • “Unsolvable Problems: Reveal Creative Business Strategies With Polarity Management” Atwater, J. Brian & Pittman, Paul P., APICS Magazine, pp. 38-41, September/October 2013 • http://thelampgroup.com/ • http://www.polaritypartnerships.com/

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