Review: Polarity Management – Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems

5 Star, Best Practices in Management, Change & Innovation, Complexity & Resilience, Consciousness & Social IQ, Decision-Making & Decision-Support, Democracy, Information Society, Intelligence (Public), Priorities, Survival & Sustainment, Truth & Reconciliation, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution
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Barry Johnson

5.0 out of 5 stars Much Less Complicated Than Expected, a Great Workbook,April 16, 2012

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I bought this back in December 2011 when I was scrounging around for books on panarchy (see for instance, Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems. It stayed in my pile as other books moved because my first impression was that it was more complicated than I cared to deal with and might – shudder — even include mathematical formulas. I was wrong.

This is a very straight forward book that I recommend as a read-ahead or work book for any group seeking to radically evolve their internal decision making processes away from the current standard of “I talk, you listen; I decide, you obey.” It has clear charts, the right amount of white space, and I put it down thinking very well of the book.

Panarchy is an evolution of the whole systems approach to anything, with the clarity and integrity of FEEDBACK LOOPS among the elements being the core of any successful system. If everyone does not talk; if everyone does not listen; if everyone does not decide; if everyone does not act in harmonization with all others, system failure is inevitable.

Interesting to me, because Harrison Owen is a friend and mentor, this book is a restatement, in panarchic terms, of his path-finding work, Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide–I also recommend his more recent Wave Rider: Leadership for High Performance in a Self-Organizing World.

I focus a lot on INTEGRITY and am well pleased that that single word is the most frequently searched term at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, yielding my several posts on the subject. The USA specifically, but governments, corporations, academia, non-profits, even civil society elements such as Occupy, labor unions, and religions, have all lost whatever semblance of integrity they might once have possessed.

This book does a very fine job of illuminating how both INDIVIDUALS **and** ORGANIZATIONS must have integrity and must be committed to the panarchic system of connectedness, resistance, release, reorganization, exploitation, conservation, and repeat toward optimal potential in the face of any given set of circumstances.

In other words, Integrity is not about sticking to what you know (all the polarities), it is about being open at all times to inputs, about being engaged at all times with all stakeholders, and about seeking mutually beneficial outcomes. I deal with a lot of people who are arrogant, ignorant, generally have way more authority than they merit, having slimed their way to the top in a system that rewards uncontroversial average–what none of them get is that LISTENING is remedial education for those who stopped learning 20 years ago, and that in LISTENING lies the basis for meeting halfway and understanding that the “party line” is flawed and needs fixing.

The books includes seven supplements, illustrated short stories, and they are one reason I recommend this book as a read-ahead for conferences or meetings.

In an interesting and valuable way, this book sits at the cross section of doing democracy, of evolutionary consciousness, of citizen and indigenous wisdom, of management and innovation, of leadership and political activism. It is generic in its utility, and I say that intending it as a recommendation.

Here are a few other books that come to mind as useful in this book’s context, for those who would aspire to nurture the community into the 21st century.

Radical Man: The Process of Psycho-Social Development
The exemplar: The exemplary performer in the age of productivity
The Knowledge Executive
The Tao of Democracy: Using co-intelligence to create a world that works for all
Society’s Breakthrough!: Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People
Doing Democracy: The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements
Conscious Evolution: Awakening Our Social Potential

See my other 1800 reviews, all leading back to Amazon, at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog. See especially my two lists of books reviews, both easily found online

Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Positive)

Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Negative)

Robert Steele

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