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Jun 20th, 2020 Share: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn

Pragmatism and Poetry

The other day a dear friend of mine asked me about a post he thought I had written about how you need to run your company between stories and spreadsheets. Turns out, I never wrote that. But it is, indeed, a very good point. And one which reminded me of a line we used at Mozilla all the time: Pragmatism and Poetry. Stories and Spreadsheets.

See, you need both to be successful. Stories are what fuels the imagination and thus gives you, your people, your customers, and your stakeholders the path forward. Or as Ron Sheik, founder of Panera Bread, once told me: “Our approach has always been to discover today what matters tomorrow and then to transform the company into a future that is unfolding before us.” — to do so, you need story. Poetry.

But no company runs on poetry alone. And the best ones are the ones which run like a Swiss clockwork. Where the spreadsheets are not there to satisfy some desire for order and/or control but to provide crystal clear insight and understanding. Pragmatism.

The art is to balance the two. To bring together what feels, oftentimes, at odds. We call this a polarity. And as luck has it, we are running a live online workshop on managing polarities and thus the tension between things like pragmatism and poetry (and also speed versus quality, or core and edge, or any other two poles which seem at odds with each other) on June 30th at 8am PDT / 5pm CEST. Come and join us…

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