Leading strategically in an interdependent, diverse and complex world

NOVEMBER 26, 2019

During AIJA’s Half-Year Conference in Miami the SCILL commission organised a workshop on leading strategically in an interdependent, diverse and complex world. The workshop addressed how vital it is to use thinking and acting to address the most strategic challenges and opportunities. Leslie DePol, CEO & co-founder of Polarity Partnerships, re-examined some of the strategies we employ to reduce vulnerability and negative exposure from a provocative and more aspirational point of view. Leslie taught our delegates simple processes that can be applied to complex challenges to achieve better outcomes.

Through the workshop delegates discovered that ‘an either-or solution’ is a type of solution that generally leads to a one-sided solution whereby problems can be solved by either-or solutions. A dilemma (what Leslie calls a polarity) cannot be solved by an either-or solution because the extremes that lead to the dilemma or polarity are interdependent opposites or poles. This taught our delegates that each pole of a dilemma has valid values and valid fears that can and should be taken into account. This can best be illustrated by the following example: ‘It is always in the best interest of the parts to care for the interest of the whole.’ And at the same time: ‘It is always in the best interest of the whole to care for the interest of the parts.’

In the interactive part of the session, participants took a polarity assessment, with a focus on diversity. The participants learned that the interdependent opposite of diversity is belonging. As there's nothing wrong with creating an organisation of belonging but not if this organisation neglects diversity.

Moreover, as part of the session, participants learned and practiced methods which help them to include and respect both opposites in finding a possible solution. As well as leveraging polarities by creating action steps to gain or maintain the upsides of both values, competencies or objectives and to identify early warnings that let you know that you are over-focusing on one value, competency or objective to the neglect of the other.

Diversity is the overarching theme of 2020 for AIJA. The SCILL workshop is one of the many more educational and awareness initiatives to follow around this topic next year.

The SCILL commission is the Skills, Career, Innovation, Leadership and Learning commission. You can keep updated with SCILL commission activities by joining their LinkedIn group. We look forward to future events organised by the SCILL commission!

Thank you to Friederike Henke, President of the SCILL commission for her contribution to this blog article.