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April 12, 2011 / Jeff Hora

Don’t think like me

The global maximum is the point at the top

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I’ve just finished reading Seth Godin’s book Poke the Box and am just finishing Ricardo Semler’s The Seven Day Weekend. One theme that has struck me is the value of diversity in team, thought and innovation.

So what do I mean….well, I really like what Semler says when talking about hiring for his company (Semco).  He is wary of hiring waves of MBAs.  His reasoning is that he feels that having a large number of team members that all think alike will keep his company from innovating and growing.  He spends a lot of time in his book writing about how he hires, how he encourages employees to try new things within their roles or “cruising the company” trying out different roles, finding their passions and being allowed the freedom to keep following their passions.  He trumpets the extreme value of this to the organization, giving example after example of how this has created new value at Semco, and how many failures took place getting to success.

I am currently leading a temporary v-team on a project.  I made an effort to discover, via a short survey I created, what the strengths and skills are of the people on my team.  Specifically, am item I asked about was the classic four quadrants of personality at work (what I call drivers, analyticals, expressives and amiables).  I found that I have at least one of each quadrant on my team, which thrills me!  This allows me the opportunity to better understand the kinds of work streams that will excite and engage them, and allow us to get the best work.  This example is a bit simplistic, but you get the idea.

Making the effort to get people who don’t think like you can be difficult, especially if your organization tends to hire for a particular quadrant.  However, do it anyway.  It is too valuable a resource to leave behind, and having too many people who DO think like you do will likely result in uninteresting, common and uncreative ideas.  You want the convergence of the next big thing, not the next version of the same old thing.

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