Promote Different Views
Far too many companies hire the same kind of people from the same sources. Research has shown that the best ideas can come from outside of your own industry. Cognitive diversity should be a goal of all management teams when we share similar values. Why don’t more companies get excited about a mix of perspectives? I suspect it’s because people tend to choose security over courage which of course leads us to missed opportunities. We avoid difficult conversations since our fragile egos are a barrier to the critical thinking we should be doing before our ideas hit the real world. Egos are just the worst.
Egos are just the worst.
We have too many executives or hiring managers pursuing, “this person looks and thinks like us” instead of the more intriguing, “we welcome new perspectives”. It's okay to standardize on systems and processes, but not your talent. Over the years, I’ve listened to CEOs complain about they seem to be the only person with ideas. A contributor to idea-drought is hiring managers who have very little feel for team dynamics. They are matching a resume to a job description (often written by someone who never actually did the job). When you add a new individual to a team, you have to think about the dynamics of that team. The cognitive cocktail that you have delivered could result in just the kind of fresh thinking you so desperately need.
It's okay to standardize on systems and processes, but not your talent.
Think Different or be the Same Old Thing
Think Different was Apple’s plea in the 1980s because if you weren’t going to be bold, you were going to buy IBM’s personal computer and Apple had no future. IBM asked us to buy their dependable computers, Apple was asking you to be Think Different. After a long and windy road, Apple has more cash in 2016 than any company in existence. Having a vision for a better future can happen in your company too.
HR has to get in the game and argue for the long-term prospects of any hire. Too much emphasis is put on the time cost of on-boarding when the bigger opportunity that may be in front of us is to hire a leader. But what if the hiring manager is threatened by a strong candidate who can lead? If that’s the case, we have a more serious problem. We need leaders at every point of our company. Waiting to be told what to do is dead. We need thinkers at the point of any challenge who get stuff done now and are constant learners. Hire the long-term player who has a strong point of vision instead of the short-term “check the boxes’ candidate fulfilling the immediate requirements. The more cognitive diverse you hire, it becomes easier for new and smart employees to bring you new value since they know they are welcome.
We need leaders at every point of the company.
Support a Psychologically Safe Environment
Having a healthy exchange of ideas with no judgement results in breaking down walls. No one enjoys a HIPPO (highest paid person’s opinion) work environment. Everyone should have the opportunity to sell their idea and unique viewpoint with respect. Ultimately a direction must be chosen to progress the company and action will be taken. It requires a psychologically safe environment for problems to get solved and innovation to flourish. Where innovation lives, margins are higher. A psychologically safe environment ultimately leads to your CFO smiling. Isn’t that an unexpected bonus?
No one enjoys a HIPPO work environment.
Celebrate Ideas in Business
You think you have big problems? Breakthrough ideas allow us to transcend our problems. Teams get to bigger answers by combining all kinds of thinking from the analytical to the most creative. If you are drowning in groupthink and the same predictable stable of options are available, you are already losing.
Breakthrough ideas allow us to transcend our problems.
The more valuable people on your team are great improvisers. They are able to build on ideas, support the other team members, and capture value. In a world that is changing every second, your ability to adapt, create ideas, and deliver value predicts your financial returns more than yesterday’s revenue.
Hire for cognitive diversity and develop a 21st century management strength of welcoming and integrating value from any mind.