Thursday, 5 September 2013

The Genius of the 'And'

Jim Collins wrote about "The Genius of the And" in his 1994 book, co-authored with Jerry Porras, "Built to Last: Successful habits of visionary companies".

Jim and Jerry talked about having a visionary mentality, and not buying into the fact that our choices are largely binary. In other words, not taking an 'you can ONLY have this or that' choice.

Perhaps the idea of being a little greedy is not a bad way of thinking about the choices in front of us.

I am reconsidering this concept of Jim and Jerry's in light of the wee piece I posted earlier in the week about an OpenPolytechnic advert which has segued its strapline from "leave your buts behind" into the message of the 'and'. "I can do this AND that".

The binary idea is that “you can have low cost or high quality”. The AND is both: you can have low cost AND high quality (we only have to think of China's growing powerhouse of manufacturing to see that this future is entirely true).

To quote Jim and Jerry "embrace both extremes" at the same time; figure out a way to have both - or many - choices (1994, p. 44). Visionary companies find ways to do well in both the short-term and long-term, rather than sacrifice one for the other. Jim and Jerry note that they are not talking about balance, but rather, they are seeking behaviours that seek to acquire both choices to the maximum possible.

So, just like life is not full of simple, binary choices, neither should it necessarily be full of moderate applications of those choices. Why not try to cram as much as possible in?

  • Collins, Jim & Porras, Jerry (1994). Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. USA: Collins Business Essentials
  • OpenPolytechnic (2013). Open Polytechnic TV Commercial - And and But. Retrieved 3 September 2013 from

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