Tuesday, May 08, 2007

There are solutions in polarities

It turns out that whole books have been written about how to avoid solving problems!

In a quest to better understand organizations, Barry Johnson founded four of them: a 24 hour crisis intervention center, a community-based newspaper, a residential treatment center for addicted adults and, a manufacturing company. In the process, he received his Ph.D. in Organization Development. An independent consultant in the combined areas of management development and organizational design, Dr. Johnson has worked in both the private and public sectors in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Since 1975 has developed a set of management principles called Polarity Management.

Dr Johnson has a message for us, “The bad news is that there are a large number of unsolvable problems in your life, both at work and at home. I’m not talking about difficulties you could solve if you had more money, time, or other resources. I’m talking about difficulties that are inherently unsolvable, one you cannot solve with resources. The good news is that you can stop trying to solve them. Instead, you can improve your skills in identifying unsolvable problems and managing them well.” Johnson, B., Polarity Management, HRD Press, 1992

Is he right? Are there unsolvable problems? I don't think so. TRIZ tells us otherwise. Download the story in this comprehensive PDF.


Richard Veryard said...

Perhaps TRIZ can deal with all the polarity problems discussed in your paper. But you claim something much stronger and harder to believe - that there are no unsolvable problems. What is your position on wicked problems?

Prakasan K said...

Dear Smith,

Very informative and useful blogs on TRIZ. Very easy to understand for a non technical person.

I'm from the non-engineering background learning TRIZ.

My blog is http://trizit.blogspot.com

Request your permission to link your blog from mine.


Helio said...

On the other hand, if we can manage an unsolved problem so that it isn't (much of) an issue anymore, couldn't we think of it as solved in some sense?

It could be seen in terms of going either through or around obstacles: some you conquer, some you avoid. Perhaps we could see Dr. Johnson's approach as complementary to TRIZ?