been searching for ways to operationalize paradoxes and your
four component typology has been the most concrete and useful
framework I've come across.
is very rich with models, patterns, and ways of thinking through
'problems' to solutions. And for anyone new to this
field, this book would be one that a person could read again
and again and again and keep mining rich nuggets from!
very worthwhile book which will be very helpful to anyone
grappling with the ambiguities and paradoxes of today's challenges,
whether as organisational leaders or as individuals going
about their daily lives.
Author & Research & Practice Director, CIPD
Senior Learning & Development Officer
perspectives and options, linking into proven business models...
a very 'user friendly' book.
Trainer, Coach, Supervisor, Psychotherapist
those interested in how, when, why (etc!) paradox and tensions
arise, manifest and impact in business environments, Joe's
book is a must... there are few in the current marketplace
who understand the dynamics of paradox management as well
as Joe. Joe's work is typically well referenced, robustly
argued, measured, masterfully written and compelling.
Director & Principal Coach
goodbye to organisational dilemmas, tensions, conflicts and stress
with Solving Impossible Problems.
Impossible problems are those that
will not easily be solved. They twist and turn and defy resolution.
When you think you have them nailed down, they loop, split and flip,
taking you round in circles until you find yourself back at square
The ability to manage tensions, paradox
and uncertainty in business is becoming a much sought after leadership
'Paradox Management' is a new but increasingly
essential field in the area of business management and will be highly
influential in the ongoing sanity and success of all organisations
and of the people who work for them.
Solving Impossible Problems will give you a greater understanding
of organisational tensions and paradox. You will learn how to recognise
these 'twisty turny' problems and then use practical tools to resolve
them or use them for innovation.
book is a unique guide to greater innovation, heightened wellbeing
and enhanced thinking power through the revolutionary process of
What are impossible problems?
* Researching impossible
problems: The 'Paradox Study'
* Exploring impossible
What is paradox?
* Three forms of
* Is paradox always
* Why understand
and manage paradox?
Dynamics and Types of Organisational Paradox
From polarity to tensions
* Dynamics of paradox
* Types of paradox
of paradox: System and individual
* Mapping and diagnosing
Impossible Problems: Symptoms and Language
Symptoms of impossible problems
* Learned helplessness
* Group behaviours
and organisational mood
* The language
of paradox and tensions
of a Problem
How layers are built
* Defensive layers
* Recognising organisational
* Addressing organisational
Models for Scoping & Exploring Impossible Problems
Where do impossible problems occur within organisations?
* Models for exploration
Understanding: The Thinking and Language of Paradox
Duality thinking, beliefs and the self-fulfilling prophecy
* Subject and object
* The embodiment of thinking and the dualistic brain
* Either/or thinking
* Positioning – right and wrong
* Cultural thinking
Patterns that Transcend Problems
Thinking beyond the problems 'going meta'
* Layers of meta
* Logical levels
* The organisation as a hierarchy
* Sorting out levels and hierarchies
Methods of thinking: Logic
* Formal logic
* Fuzzy logic
* Dialectic logic
* Trialectic logic
Polarity: The Formal Logic Approach
Dilemma or decision?
* Holding the paradox open and keeping the tension going
* Polarity management
in the Middle: The Fuzzy Logic Approach
Fuzzy logic – seeing the continuum
* Fuzzy logic in ethical dilemmas
The Dialectic Approach
What is dialectic logic?
* Dialectic Techniques
* Using the dialectic approach for model making
Perspective: The Trialectic Approach
What is trialectic logic?
* Denominalising: 'Unsticking' the paradox
* The reframing/denominalising relationship
Uncertainty and Ambiguity
Handling uncertainty and ambiguity
* The positive side of uncertainty?
* Types of uncertainty
* Preventing uncertainty
Conflict and Disagreement
Conflict and disagreement
* Approaches to managing conflicting positions
* Is win/win really possible?
* Directions of thinking: 'Chunking up' and 'chunking down'
* Negotiating through conflict
* The stages in more detail
* Resolving conflict
Management as an OD Intervention
The case for paradox management
* Challenges for paradox management
* Can paradox be managed?
* Paradox management as an organisational development tool
* Measuring the immeasurable
1: The Paradox Management Process
2: Principles of Paradox Management
the Author and The GWiz Learning Partnership