What’s the secret ingredient to creating a successful company, organization, or initiative? Some may say it is technical wizardry and engineering. In other words, it must be those “propeller heads” who write code and watch “Star Trek” who create the magic.
Others may argue it takes rigorous business chops — spreadsheets, discounted cash flow analysis, market studies. The MBAs (a.k.a. “Windsor knots”) are the ones who bring a mere idea to the pinnacle of value.
Or maybe it’s great people leadership. After all, we’re constantly told that in the knowledge age, our team is our biggest asset. Therefore, the logic goes, the person who can attract, recruit, train and lead must be that special ingredient that drives organizational success.
The truth is none of these is correct as a standalone concept but all are correct in totality. What you and your organization need is diversity of thought, experience and skills. The intricate mix of divergent ideas is the real secret ingredient, not a single perspective.
Steve Jobs is celebrated for his vision, but he would have never made history without the technical mastery of his cofounder Steve Wozniak nor the design brilliance of Jony Ive. The Beatles wouldn’t have achieved legendary status without the combined genius of Lennon and McCartney.
Too often, we try to build our organizations with self-lookalikes because it’s comfortable, but a homogenous team brings little inspiration. Bringing divergent perspectives together will help you create your own Reese’s peanut butter cup moment. Great football teams don’t take the field with 11 quarterbacks so don’t try to seize your own potential with only one viewpoint.
In South Africa, communities and companies often conduct Imbizo Groups. These sessions bring together people from all walks of life to discuss a specific problem in free-flowing conversation with no hierarchy. All voices are heard, and the best solution is reached. In contrast, most organizational meetings in the U.S. lack diversity of gender, age, race, skill sets, experience, educational background, personality or culture.
If you’re looking to break through to the next level, cross into uncharted water by injecting completely different perspectives to your challenges. Your success lies at the intersection of men and women; millennials and boomers; locals and foreigners; propeller heads and Windsor knots.
It’s an and, not an or.