At the time, Collins and Poras advised us to escape the tyranny of either/or in their book: Built to Last. Long term success eludes those enterprises that regard opposites as mutually exclusive. That premise came back to mind as just I finished reading Chris Anderson's new book: Free - The Future of a Radical Price. He explores how enterprises can make lots of money by charging nothing for a significant portion of their business. The book shows us the way to realize a paradoxical comprehension of pricing strategies. It's a wonderful sequel to his previous book: The Long Tail which dismantled our either/or thinking about blockbuster hits, best sellers and big moneymakers.
There are several more paradoxes that I expect will contribute to the resilience and sustainability of enterprises in the next economy:
- Cooperating at a global scale in mutually beneficial arrangements while competing internally and against one's own metrics to excel at individual contributions to the global economy
- Disrupting incumbents with innovative value propositions for over/under-served customers while sustaining the disruptive entrant by serving its staff as internal customers
- Delivering goods and services reliably and consistently while discovering how the customers are actually using the stuff or finding it too difficult to use in their contexts
- Paying employees as replaceable functionaries hired to protect the brand while engaging employees as talented individual brands worthy of respect, admiration and unique utilization
As I've explored in the posts tagged as Use your brain, our minds cannot handle paradoxes when we're afraid, being logical or reacting to evidence. In those instances, we're certain "it cannot be both" and "there are no two ways about it". We are compelled to devote ourselves to one side at the expense of the other. We idealize half and demonize the opposite. We unconsciously flip/flop from one extreme to the other.
To embrace any paradoxical comprehension, we need to be feeling safe and clear of fear. We need to challenge our logical conclusions by posing what-if questions and applying metaphors to the obvious labels. We need to disrupt out automatic reacting to evidence by first choosing: what things mean, which way to frame them and what they are showing us. When we prepare ourselves in these ways, then "it can be both" and "there are two ways about it".