Creative tension is a key concept that informs the Insight phase of our model of Strategic Planning, and goes like this: “Successful change is the result of seeking to resolve the creative tension that arises from simultaneously:
- Holding a clear-eyed and honest observation of current reality (where things are now )
- Remaining steadfastly committed to a clear and compelling future vision (where we want things to be), i.e., refusing to settle for less than what we want, despite reality.”
The implications for facilitating the process of Strategic Planning is that after the external scan, it is important to guide your group through another series of conversations to analyze, and dialogue about, the current internal situation. Ask: What is our understanding of where we are today? What is our influence and position relative to other players in this industry/sector? What is our current capacity and strengths on which future success can be built? What gaps exist between what is promised and what we deliver? This analysis of competencies, critical vulnerabilities, key potential growth areas and external threats is the first step in building creative tension. (A future blog will cover the second step, vision.)
* This blog follows previous Strategic Planning posts. The concept of creative tension was popularized for learning organizations by MIT Professor Peter Senge (Fifth Discipline), the concept was first introduced by Robert Fritz (Path of Least Resistance).
Read more: The Strategic Facilitator: Aligning Around Vision and Strategy