Why you should think ‘and’, not ‘or’

In an article on FastCompany a few years ago, Bob Frisch made the case that “Culture Vs Strategy Is A False Choice”.

In a nutshell his argument comes down to something that we all should know — at least since we left school and started working in the real world. Yes, there are times when the choice is “or”. However, more often things work much better and the outcomes are far stronger when you embrace the “and”.

Do both. Use both. Work to make both strong.

Bob was referring specifically to the mini “war” between culture and strategy for determinism in the corporate landscape — a war that largely ignores the fact that you need both. A strong strategy that is aligned with the culture, with what the organisation CAN do, with the promises they CAN keep, will win over just one or the other — every time.

Look across the landscape of an organisation and you will see plenty of other “ors” that should and could be “ands” — big and small:

  • Stay true to our purpose and values or grow and progress
  • Make promises we can keep or keep our customers
  • Choose either profits or people
  • Do exciting marketing or be true to what we care about
  • Care about relationships or be sales focused
  • Make it good for the environment or make it cost-effective
  • Outsource to China or have quality well-produced products in-house
  • Sell online or have a “bricks-and-mortar” storefront
  • Use Twitter or Facebook

The list could go on and on. The point is in most cases when you stop to ask how you can have or do this “and” that, the very act of connecting things together immediately multiplies the opportunities and ideas that can emerge.

This is a particularly powerful way to think when building a brand. The very act of aligning around what you care about can inadvertently lead to “or” style thinking. By translating that to “and” ideas and innovation follow. How can we care about this AND do that?

If you replace “and” for each of the statements in the list above you will build a stronger and more resilient organisation and brand — which in the end is the “and” that matters most.

What “ors” could be “ands” in your organisation?

See you next week.

Michel is an Independent Brand Thinker and Adviser dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make – with a strong, resilient organisation as the result. You can find Michel at michelhogan.com or you can follow her on Twitter @michelhogan


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