The Geometry of Choice

Take a look at almost any decision-making reference in a book or magazine and what do you see? Most likely a matrix with one desirable feature across the top and another down the side. Conventional wisdom says you read the matrix in straight lines – you have to choose which feature you’re going to favor.

What if you chose both?

I first came across this idea in Jim Collins’ classic book “Good to Great.” Since then, many writers have used the phrase “both/and” to refer to decision-making that references both issues in a choice. Alan Webber, writing in “Rules of Thumb” states it this way:

We’ve moved from an either/or past to a both/and future.

One of the skills that defines an entrepreneur and an innovator is the capacity to generate new lines of sight. That mean looking at problems along a new dimension. It means rejecting old either/or choices and finding new both/and combinations.

It’s like the game of chess. Most of the plays involve moving pieces forward or backward or sideways. But the bishop? It’s a game changer because it moves on the diagonal. Now you have the ability to move across and up on the board at the same time. You have changed the geometry of choice with one move.

How are you going to put into practice the skill of making “both/and” decisions in your organization today?