Here in Minot, we’ve received an enormous investment from the federal government to improve our resilience in the face of natural disasters. And in the wake of 2011, it’s clear we are each of us resilient individuals. But what about our culture? How do we ensure the less tangible qualities of the Minot community develop resilience?
Here’s a management concept that may be relevant. It’s framed in the context of intentionally seeking out non-conformist individuals to be participants in a healthy business culture. But could it be extended to a larger community like Minot?
If you don’t hire originals, you run the risk of people disagreeing but not voicing their dissent. You want people who choose to follow because they genuinely believe in ideas, not because they’re afraid to be punished if they don’t.
— Adam Grant, Author, Professor, named on of the 25 most influential management thinkers
The quote was taken from an article in Quartz highlighting the value of hiring non-conformists in an effort to intentionally build a culture bound by creative tension. And it’s precisely that creative tension that forces innovation. Without it, organizational culture runs the risk of stagnating. Here’s the path Mr. Grant has observed within a corporate or company culture.
What happens when startups get successful and grow is that they become more and more vulnerable to the attraction-selection-attrition cycle, where people of the same stripes are increasingly drawn to the organization, chosen by it, and retained at it. The way to combat that homogeneity creep is to proactively infuse the culture with originals, who have the will and skill to think differently. It’ll put you in a much better position to continue innovating, not only on a product—or technology—level, but all the decisions that go into running a company.
Is it worth considering whether these lessons extend to a larger, more diffused community like Minot and the many organizations that make it up? If the answer is yes, seeking out to those who think differently is a first step towards building that innovative, sustainable community culture. For the extended lesson on the value of non-conformity, check out this article on Quartz.