The Genius of BOTH/AND Thinking (Polarity Thinking learning community)


It’s been a couple of weeks now–and I’m still processing…

I hope my new friends from the Polarity Thinking Learning Community (PTLC) help contribute to my deep meaning from these incredible 2 days. AND (At the same time)…I hope these ideas will be accessible to new people to take advantage of. This emerging field is a POWERFUL approach to unlocking the full potential of organization AND individuals.

The day started off with icebreakers!! We did a bunch of getting to know each other exercises that were fun, embarassing, and I can’t remember all of them. Here Cliff and Linda are doing some udder handshake. They all had a signifacnt connection meaning though.


“Connections before content…” 

My next part was getting individual voices into the room. A simple, “Why was it important for you to be here today?”  We all made sacrifices, we all made choices to be here. Why? Let people know…


Polarity Thinking meets Immunity to Change! Wow!!!

 by Yarrow Durbin, Beena Sharma, Margaret Seidler


Bob Kegan’s Immunity to Change process.  Pictured above are the 4 columns to reveal the hidden, competing commitment AND the Big Assumption.

Yarrow overlaid a Polraity Map with how she thinks the 4 columns get translated/superimposed on it. It was mind-blowing!!!


This was powerful stuff. Everyone took a courageous step in going deep into their self. We all had to take a breath (deep, meaningful, anxiety-producing work). I personally had to take a walk with Yarrow to “unpack” all MY STUFF. Whew!!


Our Host, a Tour of their Place

Neundorfer, Inc. (particulate technology company), Mike Neundorfer (CEO), Cheryl Barker (chief OD consultant)



Dancefloors with Rebekah Marler


Rebekah led us through an experiential exercise. We didn’t know EXACTLY what we were doing…but we just followed her lead. When we finally sat down to reflect on this experience, these were some of the phrases that came out:

“Disconcerting”   “Looking for Direction…”   “Felt more comfortable doing a group thing”  “…change up was disconcerting…”  “just finding my groove–and then a new tune….arrggh”

Rebekah related these emotive experiences with what teachers face all the time. Fascinating! I left thinking about how I can occupy the Dancefloor AND the Balcony at the same time. Hmmmm…..


Polarity Assessment for Continuity and Transformation (PACT)

by Jake Jacobs


Jake took us through a real case scenario within the healthcare industry. It was very helpful to watch him use the PACT and showed us–with real data–how to this wonderful technology.

My main take-away was that this could be an incredible platform with my work with labor unions and TAO (Theoretical & Applied Organizing). Imagine having a database filled with assessment maps, data of observable indicators, and action steps/early warning signs to help win more campaigns. Possibilities are sky high!!


Enriched Force Fields

by Ned Uber


Ned Uber blew our minds with an innovation to an old friend. Enriched Force Fields: taking a popular and simple tool AND then enriching it to add greater depth to possible applications.

Why not add new fields? Reinforcements (on the driving side) ——-AND Mitigation plans (on the Resistance side).

Brilliant innovation!



by Dr. Barry Johnson


This was our keynote presentation.

Nothing I write here will do justice to Barry’s brilliant insights and presentation. Here’s my graceful offer:



8 Key Polarities within Labor Unions

by Rex Lai (handsome devil on left)  and Cliff Kayser (wise Sage on Right)

A few basic premises:

  1. Labor unions are a particular “species” of organization AND within that–there are many various forms of “cousins” that make them distinct enough to not just clump them all in together
  2. Understanding why labor unions are, given their history, structures, processes, culture, relationship to the larger world, etc. helps to explain the key polarities as energy systems. There are more than 8 polarities –but for clarity’s sake we focused on the key 8 as we best determined.
  3. Whether labor unions are aware of it or not, we/they are caught up in these energy systems (polarities). The questions is whether unions will master their polarities….or will polarities master the unions.

Rex and Cliff both told 2 stories that revealed these polarities. We then presented the 8 key polarities.


We ended with trying to expand on the 8 assessment-ready polarity maps that Cliff & I developed. I thank everyone in the PTLC for helping to clarify/challenge our current thinking on these maps.


Pre-Closing & Closing (’till next time everyone!!)