Both/And Thinking - Deepstash
Both/And Thinking

Both/And Thinking

Wendy Smith, Marianne Lewis

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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WENDY SMITH AND MARIANNE LEWIS

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

WENDY SMITH AND MARIANNE LEWIS

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WENDY SMITH AND MARIANNE LEWIS

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.

WENDY SMITH AND MARIANNE LEWIS

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CURATED BY

isabelg

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

CURATOR'S NOTE

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.

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