THE PUSH AND PULL OF "INTEGRATION TENSION"
We are familiar with movie moments and locker room scenes when the coach gives an impassioned speech to rouse the players to victory. Ted Lasso has his own brand of pep talk when he reminds us, “Taking on a challenge is a lot like riding a horse… If you’re comfortable while you’re doing it, you’re probably doing it wrong.” Well, with all due respect to the equestrian community, the dynamics of Prosono’s establishment and growth have often been like riding a horse. Sometimes awkward, sometimes bumpy, and sometimes a vacillation of riding styles: Western, English, or Group.
The genesis of Prosono is founded from two, distinctly different, persuasions. The hard-edged world of technology and business formed one side, and the conscientious, public social enterprise sector formed the other. We hypothesize, if two representatives of the aforementioned sectors sit in a room and try to collaborate and make value from both sides of those faith sectors, a lot of tension may ensue. Even when sharing similar philosophies, the approach to implementation often diverges. We call this “Integration Tension.” This concept explains the tension around how we examine human development from a philosophical point of view and how we pursue our profession with experience and acumen from both the social and private sector. The hypothesis does not have a right or wrong solution, rather we choose to acknowledge that the integration of these sectors, social and private, are integral in almost every decision, every function, every moment that we can experience.
The Prosono team started as a Prosono partnership. Akin to many famous sports duos, there were times when we questioned, not our shared passion, but whether we could move forward together stylistically. Clearly, we learned how to coexist – like Sue Bird and Breeana Stewart of the WNBA Seattle Storm, or the dominant women’s doubles team of Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver. We have parlayed our shared mission to always rise above the integration tension. We recognize the tension that exists as a company decides whether to pursue a social impact enterprise. We have lived through all of that and endured. Making difficult choices, whether it is for the greater good or to appease the counterpoint, is sometimes an imperative. Even when the tension is palpable, it is incumbent on us to strike a balance. The balance of financial transparency, of liability, of working with those who may also be our competition, and the challenge of weighing profit against our mission. It is akin to being Suni Lee and Simone Biles. A harrowing balancing act, striving to stick the landing. We live it and work it every day.
Open and honest dialogue is the greatest tool when surmounting integration tension. Rather than going back and forth, rather than being the tension, we made the tension our common enemy. We chose to separate ourselves from that dynamic. Instead, we choose to acknowledge our desire to seek the same winning and meaningful outcome, irrespective of the methods we choose. We strove toward the idea of organizational agility, asking ourselves: So what can we take from one and apply to the other and vice versa. It is taking the best of both pieces along with the different thinking that comes from one side of the house versus the other side. It is removing the subjective philosophy and utilizing one’s practicality…from both sides of the issue. As we recognize the integration tension that lives within our own structure, we grow strength and perspective as we apply this awareness and concept to the businesses we serve.
To best serve our community and our clients, we need to recognize our own struggles and our victories. To label the inherent challenges, in this case, “integration tension,” is a way to overcome and to put to good use our experiences. Some of the best discoveries and achievements were hard-fought, in part due to the personality conflicts that were inherent. Woodward and Bernstein learned to overcome their differing journalistic methods to a shared triumph and by-line. Even Shaq and Kobe simultaneously reside on the lists of both, best duos and teammates who hated one another. Integration tension, unlike our sports heroes, may have a long shelf life. However, Prosono will still be looking for the slam-dunk, the walk-off home run, and the Triple Crown when it comes to the incorporation of social impact in our life.