The Genius of “AND” goes like this:

“If there’s one lesson from our finding to keep in mind above all others, it is this: Clock build your company so that it preserves a passionately held core ideology and simultaneously stimulates progress in everything but that ideology. Preserve the core and stimulate progress.” ~Jim Collins (famous business writer)

The concept is simple:  Don’t choose “OR” when you can have “AND” (both).

I like the idea of “And” thinking; perhaps sometimes you can have both?  It can lead you to new thinking and solutions where you previously did not see options.

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”
~F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Tyranny of “OR” goes like this:

“…the rational view that cannot easily accept paradox, that cannot live with two seemingly contradictory forces or ideas at the same time… [it] pushes people to believe things must be either A OR B, but not both.”  ~Jim Collins (famous business writer)

This concept is simple:  “Or” is overly restrictive.

However…I think there is also great power in “Or”; in fact, I wager “Or” can be more positive than “And”.  Here is why:

“Or” provides Focus. 

As a consultant, I can honestly say companies struggle with this.  When I see strategic plans, they are generally full of great stuff….too full.  They will spread the peanut butter thinly; they will accomplish a little bit of everything, but not too much of anything.  5 areas of focus is too many.  3 might be too many.  Could you get it down to 1 or 2 and stay that course for several years?  That is powerful.

“Or” acknowledges Time.

“And” can be tyrannical in its own way, as each extra item is something that must be tended to…all of which takes time.  “Or” requires making a stand and acknowledging the opportunity cost of time.

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

~Steve Jobs


Footnote: I understand the Collins had a specific case of “And” in mind, and I have a specific case of “Or” in mind.  In short, the two concepts of “And” and “Or” aren’t mutually exclusive in every case.  However, I stand by the fact that the focus of “Or” is often more valuable than the diffusion of “And”.)
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