Both-and Thinking

From our newsletter of January 30, 2013, by Sheella Mierson    


Next time you have two seemingly contradictory ideas to address a knotty issue, try both-and thinking rather than either-or. Rather than asking, “Which idea is better?” or “Which concept has the stronger arguments?”, ask instead, “How can we do both things?” or “How can we combine both this concept and that concept?” A brand new solution may emerge. Both-and thinking is counter-intuitive from what we are used to, and takes practice.

Both-and thinking is key to dynamic governance (DG). How is it possible to get everyone’s input into a policy decision—along with the creativity, time, messiness, or even chaos that can sometimes imply—and also have an efficient organization that can respond nimbly to challenges? We usually think of those two options as either-or. Gerard Endenburg, a Dutch electrical engineer, figured out 40-some years ago how to rewire an organization to have both at the same time. Check out this blog by my colleague John Schinnerer: Both And Governance. I find that both-and thinking is a discipline. I am so used to either-or, that I need to remind myself to shift my approach. For me this applies to major strategic organizational issues and the little decisions of daily living. It’s a work in progress….
Please TALK TO ME about how you can make simple structural changes that unleash creativity and initiative in your organization (while maintaining or increasing efficiency—there’s that both-and thinking), and simultaneously grow the relationships to be more productive and deeply rewarding.