Both/And Thinking - Deepstash
Both/And Thinking

Both/And Thinking

Wendy Smith, Marianne Lewis

11 ideas


1.7K reads


Keep reading for FREE

The Limits of Either/Or Thinking

The Limits of Either/Or Thinking

  • Either/or thinking restricts solutions and mindsets.
  • Overemphasizing one side of a paradox while neglecting the other is limited at best and detrimental at worst.
  • Navigating paradox requires adopting mindsets that enable holding two opposing forces simultaneously. This challenges rational assumptions.

Truth is not black and white. "Yes, and" thinking honors others' realities without necessarily agreeing. Multiple truths can coexist.


286 reads

Leadership Dilemmas as Paradoxes

Leadership Dilemmas as Paradoxes

  • Leaders face daily paradoxical dilemmas like tell or ask, step in or back.
  • The tug of war between conflicting options creates discomfort.
  • Rather than choosing either/or, reframe to embrace "this AND that" thinking.
  • There is a third space where opposites coexist synergistically.

Starbucks doesn't have to trade off fast service and communal space but accommodates both.


198 reads

Why Both/And Thinking

Why Both/And Thinking

  • Life's complexity reflects our own.
  • Vulnerability strengthens courage.
  • Woundedness builds integrity.
  • It's not either/or but this AND that.
  • Messy problems present dilemmas with logical but opposed solutions.

Adaptive challenges lack roadmaps, unlike technical problems. Navigating paradox means shifting assumptions to hold contradictions together.


178 reads

Four Types of Paradoxes

Four Types of Paradoxes

There are four types of paradoxes, involving competing tensions:

  1. Performing paradoxes (goals)
  2. Learning paradoxes (change)
  3. Belonging paradoxes (identity)
  4. Organizing paradoxes (structure)

For instance, learning paradoxes balance exploiting current success and exploring future innovation.

Belonging paradoxes raise opposing roles and values.


156 reads

Getting Stuck in Vicious Cycles

Getting Stuck in Vicious Cycles

Without paradox mindsets, people get stuck in downward vicious cycles of either/or thinking: Rabbit holes (intensifying one pole), Wrecking balls (overcorrecting to the opposite extreme), and Trench warfare (each side attacking the other's stuck thinking).

Cognitive, emotional and behavioral traps fuel these detrimental spirals.


148 reads

Navigating Conflict

Navigating Conflict

  • Truth is not singular - there are multiple realities.
  • "Yes, and" thinking respects others' views without agreeing.
  • Build on alternate perspectives to expand thinking.
  • Move from trying to control problems to coping amidst uncertainty.
  • Paradoxes persist; they cannot be permanently resolved.
  • Accept ambiguity.


140 reads

Higher Purpose and Vision

Link tensions to higher purpose. Set vision passionately unifying opposites. Build guardrails ensuring both poles are represented.

Diversify stakeholders across paradoxes. Long-term vision sustains creative friction.


126 reads

Experimentation and Evolution

Experimentation and Evolution

  • Enable low-cost experiments to try possibilities.
  • Use language and rewards to spur innovation.
  • Evaluate before broader rollout.
  • Continually revisit tensions - they evolve.
  • Name paradoxes to honor discomfort.
  • Conflict skills build comfort amid differences.


114 reads

Personalize Paradoxes

  • Connect competing demands to individual goals.
  • Train leaders in paradox mindsets.
  • Help employees recognize tensions in their roles.
  • Build skills in conflict and vulnerability.
  • Make tensions tangible at individual levels.


108 reads


The problem is not the problem; the problem is how we think about the problem



125 reads


A visionary company doesn’t seek balance between short term and long term. A visionary company...aims to be distinctly yin and yang; both at the same time, all the time.



128 reads



I love creating music, coffee, and film. Always strive for perfection.


Both/And Thinking is a book written by Wendy Smith and Marianne Lewis . It was published on August 9, 2022 by Harvard Business Review Press . The book delves into the concept of "both/and" thinking and how it can help individuals and organizations become more creative, flexible, and effective at solving problems. Authors Wendy Smith and Marianne Lewis introduce the concept of "both/and" thinking as a way to break free of binary thinking and embrace more creative and effective problem-solving.

More like this

Thinking, Fast and Slow

10 ideas

Clear Thinking

6 ideas

Clear Thinking

Shane Parrish

Wisdom Of Insecurity

14 ideas


Explore the World’s

Best Ideas

200,000+ ideas on pretty much any topic. Created by the smartest people around & well-organized so you can explore at will.

An Idea for Everything

Explore the biggest library of insights. And we've infused it with powerful filtering tools so you can easily find what you need.

Knowledge Library

Powerful Saving & Organizational Tools

Save ideas for later reading, for personalized stashes, or for remembering it later.

# Personal Growth

Take Your Ideas


Organize your ideas & listen on the go. And with Pro, there are no limits.

Listen on the go

Just press play and we take care of the words.

Never worry about spotty connections

No Internet access? No problem. Within the mobile app, all your ideas are available, even when offline.

Get Organized with Stashes

Ideas for your next work project? Quotes that inspire you? Put them in the right place so you never lose them.


2 Million Stashers


5,740 Reviews

App Store


72,690 Reviews

Google Play

Ashley Anthony

This app is LOADED with RELEVANT, HELPFUL, AND EDUCATIONAL material. It is creatively intellectual, yet minimal enough to not overstimulate and create a learning block. I am exceptionally impressed with this app!


Don’t look further if you love learning new things. A refreshing concept that provides quick ideas for busy thought leaders.

Sean Green

Great interesting short snippets of informative articles. Highly recommended to anyone who loves information and lacks patience.

Shankul Varada

Best app ever! You heard it right. This app has helped me get back on my quest to get things done while equipping myself with knowledge everyday.

Jamyson Haug

Great for quick bits of information and interesting ideas around whatever topics you are interested in. Visually, it looks great as well.

Laetitia Berton

I have only been using it for a few days now, but I have found answers to questions I had never consciously formulated, or to problems I face everyday at work or at home. I wish I had found this earlier, highly recommended!

Giovanna Scalzone

Brilliant. It feels fresh and encouraging. So many interesting pieces of information that are just enough to absorb and apply. So happy I found this.

Ghazala Begum

Even five minutes a day will improve your thinking. I've come across new ideas and learnt to improve existing ways to become more motivated, confident and happier.

Read & Learn

20x Faster





Access to 200,000+ ideas

Access to the mobile app

Unlimited idea saving & library

Unlimited history

Unlimited listening to ideas

Downloading & offline access

Personalized recommendations

Supercharge your mind with one idea per day

Enter your email and spend 1 minute every day to learn something new.


I agree to receive email updates