Your Band Doesn’t Need Five Drummers

Imagine if the Beatles had no Paul, John, or Ringo… just four Georges.  Their incredible contribution to the world – their timeless music – would be merely overlapping guitar solos and too many strumming chords.  Blah!

A great band comes to life through the unique contribution of varying instruments, talents, and perspectives.  So why then do we often build our companies, organizations, and communities with such striking uniformity?

The classic 1962 folk song called “Little Boxes” (and also the theme song to Showtime’s hit series, Weeds), hauntingly chants about the danger of bland conformity.  It describes all the houses and people that look “just the same” as a platform to lament urban sprawl:

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same,
There’s a pink one and a green one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses
All went to the university
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same
And there’s doctors and lawyers
And business executives
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

Nearly 50 years later, so many still strive to blend in despite the incredible opportunity to seize diversity in all areas of life.

I see startups all the time with co-founders that look, act, and talk just like each other.  Just like those little boxes on the hillside.  While they may be good friends, the recipe for a great company involves a diverse mix of ingredients.  Fifteen generalists don’t create a game changing, vibrant, hyper-growth company.  A funky blend of diverse talents and experiences is what’s needed to unlock creativity and bring something truly special to life.

As you assemble your teams, friends, colleagues, and cohorts, there exists a direct correlation between their diversity of experience and thinking, and your collective creative output.  The best bands, dance troupes, and R&D labs reach the highest levels via a mixing pot of varied contribution.

Your band doesn’t need five drummers.  Especially ones made of ticky tacky.

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