This is a polarity all countries should deal wisely with.

This interdependent pair has always been there. The Covid-19 just emphasized it.

What is Polarity Management?

Polarities (wicked problems or paradoxes) ongoing, chronic issues that are unavoidable and unsolvable. Applying tradition problem skills will make things worse. By acknowledging you are dealing with a polarity, you must manage the polarity well. 

The Polarity Management™ model will help you to distinguish between Solvable Problems and Polarities. “Is this a problem we can solve or is it an ongoing polarity we must manage well?” In case of polarities, this model and set of principles will help you to effectively deal with those polarities. 

As a leader it is important to distinguish between a problem to solve and a polarity to manage and are effective with both.

Polarity Management can help with the following:

  • Simplify the complexity without being simplistic
  • Capitalize on diversity without alienating the diverse groups
  • Provide predictability and stability amidst accelerating change
  • Convert resistance to change to a resource for sustainable, ongoing change-ability

Public Health and Economy

We are pleased to see that the Dutch government recognized the phenomenon as a polarity, deploying a strategy that supports both poles. Judging by the media coverage there are countries treating this phenomenon as ‘Health VERSUS Economy’, so far with disaster.

Emphasizing “Health” neglecting “Economy”, will eventually lead to the downside of that pole “Recession”.
Emphasizing “Economy” neglecting “Health”, will eventually lead to the downside of that pole “Pandemic”.

As long as you are stuck in the Or-thinking, thus “Health OR/VERSUS Economy”, you will eventually hurt both “Health AND Economy”. 

Quadrant +A and -B are resp. Upside and Downside of ‘Health’
Quadrant +C
and -D are resp. Upside and Downside of ‘Economy’

  • Early Warnings -B: Observations which indicate quadrant -B (Recession)
  • Early Warning -D: Observations which indicate quadrant -D (Pandemic)
  • Action Step +A: Contains actions which are supposed to address quadrant -D (Pandemic)
  • Action Step +C: Contains actions which are supposed to address quadrant -B (Recession)

In all these 4 quadrants I mentioned 1 item in ‘Action Steps +A & +C” and in “Early Warning -B & -D”.

We invite you to list all possible indications/actions on “Action Steps +A & +C” and in “Early Warning -B & -D”. It might help policy makers when they read this post.

Exercise: Pandemic Polarity - Public Health and Economy

Polarity Map Exercise

We invite you to list all possible indications/actions on “Action Steps +A & +C” and in “Early Warning -B & -D”. It might help policy makers when they read this post.

Contains actions which are supposed to address quadrant -D (Pandemic)
Contains actions which are supposed to address quadrant -B (Recession)
Observations which indicate quadrant -B (Recession)
Observations which indicate Quadrant - D (Pandemic)

The Polarity Management Model is one of the techniques we cover in our ICAgile Business Agility Foundations workshop. This training helps leaders, managers and professionals understand Complexity Thinking, Agile concepts, and Agile ways of working that can be adapted for business, organizational and process management.

Further Reading

The Polarity Management™ model and set of principles are a user-friendly way to deal with all polarities in life. 

Training Calendar

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