Thursday, March 10, 2011

Reject the Tyranny...

... of the "OR"

Without a doubt one of the most influential business writers of the past 15 years has been Jim Collins. Some of the most respected leaders in ChurchWorld list his works as tremendously important in the foundation of critical elements of their development - both as individuals and of their ministries.

Level 5 Leadership - First Who, Then What - Hedgehog Concept - Culture of Discipline - The Flywheel - BHAG

If you recognize these phrases, then you are probably familiar with Collins' work. If you don't, I suggest you check out "Built to Last," "Good to Great," "How the Mighty Fall," and "Good to Great and the Social Sectors."

Of all his insightful work, my favorite is the brilliantly simple concept of dualism, referred to in the title. I'll introduce it today, and finish it tomorrow.

The Tyranny of the "OR"

It's easy to understand why leaders - or organizations - subscribe to the rational view that cannot easily accept paradox, that cannot live with two seemingly contradictory forces or ideas at the same time. The "Tyranny of the OR" pushes people to believe that things must be either A OR B, but not both. It makes such proclamations as:
  • You can have change OR stability
  • You can be conservative OR bold
  • You can have low cost OR high quality
  • You can have creative autonomy OR consistency and control
  • You can invest for the future OR do well in the short-term
  • You can make progress by methodical planning OR by opportunistic groping
  • You can be idealistic OR pragmatic

Is there a natural principle at work here like gravity? "That's the way things have always been"; That's the we we've always done it"; "It's always worked that way before, so why change it now?"

I think not.

There is a better way...

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