To be Dynamic You Need Tension

Kicking Butt vs. Counting Butts in Seats

I’ve been around organizations that are dynamic, where risks are taken, new innovations fly, and the response is incredible.

And I’ve been around organizations that used to be dynamic, where it seems people are remembering big risks, iteration has taken over, and the response is flat, predictable even.

  • Being around one is like being at a party and watching someone blow up a balloon, more and more full… past the point of comfortability… the room stops in enamored awe waiting for the moment it explodes.
  • Being around the other is like being at a party where everyone is issued a balloon and challenged to blow it up until it explodes, but everyone just awkwardly doesn’t…

Without Tension You Can’t Be Dynamic


The difference is that in the first organization there is tension everywhere. The organization grows as a by-product of this tension. The tension comes from rivalry, internal competition, there might even be staff members or teams who can’t stand one another. And yes, there might even be sexual tension. (Gasp, even in churches!)

I’m not saying this tension is altogether healthy. No one likes it when a meeting ends in, “Eff you, No eff you. I effing hate you.” But the impact of that tension often carries over into the output of the organization and it’s the secret sauce people are drawn to.

The flip side is an organization tends to get along too well. They are a happy family. They like each other… a lot. Somewhere, some higher up decided that they were tired of the infighting and rivalry… it was seen as immaturity… and eliminated it.

A person who brought conflict left or got fired. The person who fueled a rivalry ticked off the wrong person or hit a ceiling and they got replaced with someone who is likable.

When I start hearing about organizations hiring people, not because of what they can do, but because “they are a good fit” I wonder who is determining “a good fit.” Is that code for “we really like that person as a friend and we want to work with him” or is it the right person to maintain the dynamic chemistry?

The consequences of having a tension-less organization are usually terrible. It’s something you feel. It’s hard to describe. Everyone is just standing around, awkwardly, with an empty balloon.

Sure, everyone gets along. Sure, there are lots of hugs and staff people linger after meetings to hear about Little League games.

But the air is out of the balloon.

The once dynamic, explosive thing everyone rallied around… That innovative environment has been replaced with a birthday policy, HR training, key performance indicators, and other quasi-motivational crap.

What’s Wrong Here?

p.txtIf you are asking that question… what’s wrong here? This place used to be more fun. This place used to be so creative.

The problem might not be a lack of creativity or motivation.

The problem might be a lack of tension.

Without tension things can’t be dynamic. 





One response to “To be Dynamic You Need Tension”

  1. Youth Culture Report (@youthculturerep) Avatar

    ” Eff ” ya…I think we can have dynamic tension, while still having unity. Just post this ” effing ” article on the youth culture report.

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