Organizer and Visionary: What is possible when these seemingly opposing forces come together?

Posted by Anthony Attan

Jan 12, 2014 3:04:40 PM

One needs control, the other thrives in chaos. One is meticulously calculating, the other willing to change as fast as the wind shifts. These two patterns truly are paradoxical forces but what becomes possible when we learn to manage this paradox? When we learn to use both of the powerful energy patterns of FEBI?

First, a bit of background. What we are describing here are two of the four energy patterns of personality measured by the FEBI personality assessment. Although all patterns serve an important purpose in just about any situation, most of us have a strong preference for one of these four, which we call our home pattern. As a coach that works with leaders around these patterns, I also often see that two patterns can merge together to form a personality style for that individual. More times than not, we see pairings of Driver with Organizer or pairing of Collaborator with Visionary. These pairings do make intuitive sense given the nature of the patterns, Driver/Organizer being patterns of what is rewarded in many companies such as meeting goals, following through on commitments and pushing for greater success. Collaborator/Visionary are patterns of creativity and art such as seen in these street art pictures. These, however, are far from the only styles that can exist and some pretty interesting things happen when some of the more opposing patterns pair together. Extraversion, for example, appears to be a combination of Driver and Collaborator. The Driver side of extraversion is the side the steps up in leadership situations, taking charge when the task calls for it. The Collaborator side of extraversion, on the other hand, is all about being the life of the party and connecting with people. Two very different expressions of the widely known extraversion trait but when combined creates a charismatic, engaging leader that gets things done!

Another interesting pairing is the Organizer and Visionary energy patterns. The Organizer energy pattern is defined by its systematic approach to problem solving, its attention to details and its overall demeanor of conscientiousness. High Organizers tend to thrive in situations that have, well, order! They like to know what is coming, they create plans and they stick with them. An Organizer has a place for everything and everything is in its place. This is very different from the Visionary energy pattern which instead thrives in chaos. This pattern has an ability to sense the flow of shifting winds and the agility to move with it. Visionary is about innovation, freedom and big picture thinking, a far cry from the structure of the Organizer.

From that description it sure seems like these two forces are destined to compete but what happens when they come together? Well, this…

snow-art8     snow-art10

What you are looking at is snow art by Simon Beck. These are massive pictures created by pressing snow that take Simon endless hours and require him to walks miles for every piece. To create these truly sensational works of art, two energy patterns are required. First, you need a vision. Remember the scale of these art pieces, a big canvas indeed. Simon has to envision what he wants to create with the space he has and make it work to scale. This of course requires Simon to summon the creative and big picture energy of the Visionary. Vision will only give you an idea, however, so another energy pattern is needed to ensure the vision is realized. Execution requires a very meticulous process of ensuring every step is in the exact right spot to create that bigger picture. As these pictures below show, the Organizer can be of great help when creating these massive art pieces one step at a time.

snow-art3   snow-art

We can find a rhythm of using both these patterns, you have the vision to create great things and the discipline to execute that vision. This can certainly be tricky since they really are paradoxical forces, however, as Ginny Whitelaw describes in The Zen Leader that being able to manage this paradox is imperative to leadership success:

“Paradox takes us into the realm of not knowing, of not solving a problem once and for all, but rather managing an ongoing dynamic two (or more) “right” answers, neither of which is sufficient by itself. To embrace and work with paradox, we have to suspend our mind’s pull to nail down an answer. We have to accept the more complex dynamism of And, while relinquishing our grasp on the simple stasis of Or.”

Simon found a way to manage the paradox and rather than just envisioning the snow art or methodically walking in the snow he created this art by effectively managing the And. To learn more about how to do this, I recommend reading the chapter of The Zen Leader “From Or to And” dedicated to this topic. Want to learn what your energy pattern style is? Take the FEBI report for yourself.



Topics: zen leader, paradox, FEBI, Visionary, Organizer

Decision Making - It's All About Paradoxes

Posted by Mark Kiefaber

Nov 8, 2012 1:59:00 PM

Have you worked in a company where the bosses couldn't make up their damn minds?  For awhile, the structure was decentralized so you and your fellow workers could stay close to the customers and be able to respond to their diverse needs.  Then, once that seemed to be going well, the company reorganized and centralized to be more systematic, consistent and control costs better.  Then, once that seemed to be going well, another re-organization was implemented to re-decentralize because all the cost saving and standardization had reduced individualized responsiveness and alienated customers?  I worked in companies where this happened, and I remember thinking, “Why don’t these geniuses up at the top justparadox make up their minds and stop this back and forth and stick with a decision? Why can’t they solve this once and for all?”  Have you ever asked the same thing?

Some years ago, I attended a seminar where the speaker, Barry Johnson, asked the group questions like these, and all of us grumbled and laughed about having lived through this back and forth two-step in organizations.  He then told us why this was such a common experience: that the problems our bosses had been trying to solve through re-organizations weren’t merely problems.  They were paradoxes, and a paradox can’t be solved once and for all. It has to be managed in a way that, over time, keeps two opposing forces in dynamic balance.  Work-life balance is a good example.  It doesn’t solve once and for all, but rather is something we return to again and again with sensitivity to when we’ve gone too far in one direction and need to come back the other way. It’s this balancing the tension of the opposing forces that makes a higher level goal possible, such as having a fulfilling career and personal life in the case of work-life balance, rather than having to chose one or the other.  Here are some other common paradoxes:

  • Flexibility and control
  • Short-term and long-term
  • Global and local
  • Individual rewards and group rewards 

All paradoxes have this in common: neither side, by itself, is entirely right, and a more complete “rightness” is possible through skillful balance.  Balance is not a static absence of decisions or action, but rather a dynamic shifting of emphasis in decisions and actions from one side to the other – and knowing when to shift.

Once I was introduced to Paradox Management, I have never looked at the world the same way.  I now see paradoxes everywhere, and have developed several new methods for diagnosing, mapping out, and managing paradoxes well.  I find this one of the most important areas to include in team sessions (team projects almost always involve important paradoxes) and in leadership programs.  For this is the understanding that helps leaders move beyond the “rightness” of their own opinions to optimizing the competing perspectives they must increasingly lead across. 

How can you start noticing and working with paradoxes?  If I were to boil down most of the paradoxes I’ve seen and worked with, they fall into these three basic categories:  learning, organizing, and belonging.

Learning – Paradoxes around learning show up when we’re challenged to build on what we know versus learn something new, for example, when we have to deliver the present and find the new future.  Learning requires using, critiquing, and often destroying past understandings and practices to construct new and more complicated frames of reference. That doesn’t mean there was anything wrong with the past learning when it was acquired, it just may be out of date, but some people hold onto outdated knowledge because they don’t want to feel they were wrong in the past.

Organizing – Paradoxes around organizing relate to how much or how little of it we’ll tolerate, for example, flexibility versus control. Organizing denotes an ongoing process of balancing opposing forces that encourage commitment, trust, and creativity (“flexibility”) while maintaining efficiency, discipline, and order (“control”).
In my over thirty years of experience consulting with organizations, I almost always find that they value control over flexibility and then wonder why they struggle with innovation.

Belonging – Paradoxes around belonging, especially important in teams, relate to the emphasis on the individual versus the group.  To what extent to we honor individual diversity versus group cohesion?  How do we get the best from individual creativity and team efforts?  As individuals, we have conflicting drives to be independent on the one hand, and belong to supportive groups (family, friends, teams) on the other. Groups, however, have norms that members are supposed to conform to, which may impede out individual freedom.  Hence the paradox.

So even though there are countless numbers of paradoxes, if you can learn how to manage these three basic categories, you’ll find it much easier to handle their many variations.  A way to get started is outlined in the Paradox Mapping (make link) guide. You might try it out with a paradox facing you now.  Or better yet, pick a paradox from each of these 3 areas and map each of them.  Once you get a feel for the dynamism of paradox, even de-re-organizations will start to make a new kind of sense.




Topics: managing paradox, paradox, conflict, managing change, problem solving, polarity, dilema, resolving conflict, management, organization structure, leadership, work-life balance

Welcome to the FEBI Learning Lounge

The official FEBI blog

The FEBI Learning Lounge is the official blog of FEBI Assessment.  In this blog we discuss all things related to the energy patterns of FEBI, digging more into each of the patterns of personality and discussing various applications that can benefit from a pattern perspective.

Also visit the Zen Leader Blog



Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts