Work Across Factions
Working across factions means being willing to allow your thought processes to hold two opposing ideas in your mind at the same time without panicking. This is about avoiding oversimplifications and thinking in trade-offs. When you allow time for working with opposing ideas across factions, you are facing tension together, allowing for more creative solutions to emerge. We have all done this in our lives, thinking from a both/and mindset vs. either/or. We can do this in our thorniest of problems. But sometimes we just need to remind ourselves that we can do this, we have done this, and it is important to do this whenever possible.
Organizational scientists, psychologists, and neuroscientists call this way of thinking a “paradox mindset.” When we allow ourselves to explore opposing ideas, we are more able to see overlapping interests and build off them instead of focusing on disagreements. Let this way of thinking open your vision to a complex and multifaceted world that either/or thinking does not.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- What factions exist in relationship to your challenge?
- What are each faction’s values and loyalties?
- What are their potential losses?
- What are the trade-offs being voiced?
- What additional complexities of the situation should you consider? What are you choosing to pay attention to? What are you choosing not to pay attention to?
- Who else might have an alternative view and/or contradictory data of the problem you are trying to solve? Can you interview them using active listening? What new data arises from the interview?
- What are the benefits of each opposing idea? Of those benefits, which would you prioritize?
- What happens when you put the benefits of each opposing idea together in one sentence?
- What is the relationship of the opposing ideas now? Are new connections made? Is there any new meaning being made?
 Martin, R. 2007. The opposable mind: How successful leaders win through integrative thinking. Harvard Business School Press.