When thinking about long-term conflicts in your organization, do some particularly unsolvable headaches come to mind? Have you looked at some of these issues more closely and realized that there is no decisive solution to them? Some of these conflicts that always seem to come back or never seem to go away may be "chronic tensions", a fact of life in any kind of work.
Chronic tensions in organizational development is a term used to refer to the competing pull of priorities within an organization. Choosing where to have lunch is not a chronic tension — deciding whether to focus on internal capacity-building or mission delivery is. Choices are seldom clear cut or final, and it is this juggling of competing needs while taking into account the entire organization that explains why you can never seem to answer certain long-lived and recurring questions about your organization's mission.
In organizational development, there is a tool for mapping this cycle of competing priorities called the Polarity Mapping Matrix. Using the techniques presented in this video, our Senior Consultant Stewart Lanier will demonstrate how you can identify chronic tensions in your organization with this tool and place them into the proper context.
Watch the video:
Stewart is an organizational development and executive transition consultant here at TSNE MissionWorks. He has worked with numerous clients over the last eight years leading executive searches, serving as an interim executive, managing strategic planning and organizational assessment processes. Stewart also presents workshops on organizational development in our popular Better Nonprofit Management training series.