The Power of “And”
I have a big idea tumbling around my head, but I’ll admit, getting it onto paper this month has been a real struggle. The big idea involves touching the soul of every living being. It unleashes business partnerships to the benefit of customers; it makes frictionless parking even more frictionless; it makes us feel safe and it creates healing. That big idea? It’s the word “and.”
How can one word deliver so much? Because “and” inspires us to reach out our hand and not stick it in our pocket. It encourages us to think about pulling more people into our circle and not pushing them away. It gives us comfort because we’re not alone when we have “and.”
A few examples might be helpful. Our very existence has depended on a huge “and.” There must be a unity of two beings to bring new life forth. I won’t go any further, but you get the picture. We can’t do it alone.
Taking that a step further, Jill and I have talked numerous times about how difficult it would be without us both pulling the wagon together to raise our kids. Our hats are off to the single parents, because it’s hard even with two on the job. That same concept holds in all that we do. When we have help and support from others, the job gets easier, and it’s more fulfilling to step back and admire our work.
All of this reminds me of an African proverb I have written on my whiteboard as a reminder: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” Together is so much better in so many ways.
So much of what we hear and read today highlights our divisions – politically, socio-economically, corporately and personally, but I believe by embracing the concept of “and,” we can truly help bring us together, make us feel more accepted and sow the seeds of unity so desperately needed in our world today.
“And” is a unifying word, it prompts us to think more broadly than ourselves and encourages us to seek common ground rather than focusing so intently on what makes us different. In fact, I read that one of the most powerful techniques for creating acceptance in a group is to help all of the members find what makes them the same – identifying the group’s “and.” Try this mental exercise – think of a person with whom you regularly disagree. Now find three ways you two are the same, find your “ands,” and I’ll bet your approach to them and your view of them softens just a little.
There is so much more that can be said about the power of inclusion. Our nature is that “birds of a feather flock together” and immediately it may make you think of one type of bird, say, a robin. But the power of “and” is to reimagine birds to include not just robins, but sparrows and blue jays and woodpeckers and eagles. The power of “and” indeed!
We all want to be accepted and when we come to the party with an “and” mentality, we’ll find ways to be inclusive by finding the “and” with our colleagues. At Parker, we talk a lot about building a championship team to deliver for our customers. We don’t focus on the relative importance of each of the departments, rather, we rally around the idea that it takes sales and marketing and operations and finance and support to field an award-winning team. The sum of the whole is greater than the parts and the word that links us is “and.”
The same could be said for solutions created between two or more companies. There are few, if any, companies that can be all things to all people. The fact is, like humans, each company has strengths and weaknesses, as well as finite resources to focus their efforts on delivering excellence with a narrow set of solutions. That’s where the “and” in partnerships comes in. Through successful partnerships, each company can deliver to its strength, ultimately allowing the customer to have best of breed solutions. The companies must work together, ideally as equals, with the customers’ needs at the center.
Parking is going through a massive digital transformation and it’s going to be a real challenge for any one company to be all things to all people. I’ve spoken in these pages before about the need for collaboration and cooperation to deliver a better customer experience for our parking customers. My view is: we must embrace the spirit of “and” corporately and personally to make the world and the parking industry a better place.