Monday, February 1, 2010

Value Uniqueness

Here's a paradox about innovating at work. Innovation requires lots of different perspectives and world views. But most organizations hire for "cultural fit", meaning that people who are seen as "odd-bods" get weeded out of the recruitment process.

Amongst those who do get hired, there is pressure for people to conform to perceived expectations. Dominant views and assumptions can inhibit the consideration of new ideas.

We are all the product of our own individual upbringing, education and experiences. Each person has something unique to contribute to the innovation process. Understand what each person has to offer; encourage and harness diversity at work.

People with similar backgrounds often think similarly. Make sure your culture does not become too homogenous. Innovation benefits from all kinds of diversity, not just limited to race and gender.

Some people naturally see opportunities and find it easy and enjoyable to think of ideas. Others are more likely to tell you why the ideas won’t work. Both approaches are necessary, but not at the same time. People who seem to take a negative approach could be very valuable when it comes to evaluating ideas and managing risk. But when you are trying to generate a range of new ideas, these people may not be the best ones to have in the room. A profiling test called QO2 can help you identify which of people are more attuned to opportunities and which ones tend to see the obstacles. The Thought Leadership program includes a module called "Uniqueness" which helps people identify their best attributes.

Knowing the strengths of your people means you can use their skills in the most effective way.

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