We’ve all been in meetings when a creative person enthusiastically suggests an idea only to hear from a more detailed thinker, “We tried that once, but it took too long. We’d have to find a way to do it faster,” or “Great, but how are we going to get that done?” Conversation stops. Patience thins. Tensions rise. “Why does she always have to be such a wet blanket? She just slows everything down with details!” or *sigh* “Here we go again. That head is always in the clouds! He never thinks things through!”
Be careful not to label these exchanges “personality clashes” which sounds hopeless—as if, without a fundamental shift in personalities, these disagreements can’t be settled positively—and shortchanges everyone. They are actually valuable differences in how people think and approach the issues. Put Idea Person together with Detail Person, and you get a powerful team that’s both creative and practical. Difference equals completion.
What can be
When people with diverse thinking styles get together, sparks will fly. If it’s handled right, this “creative friction” is a tremendous asset. It lets the group see a challenge more completely and tackle it from all angles: conceptual, technical, operational, short term, long term, in the box, out of the box, and way, way out of the box. Teams of people with diverse backgrounds and thinking styles can create breakthroughs. They see not just “what is” but “what can be” and they’ve got the vision and skills to make it happen.
This is why it’s good business to recognize and celebrate the differences between people on your team. They are the team’s greatest strength.
Be sure you’re talking about these differences as the assets they are:
- “As our team’s operations expert, John knows how to keep everyone’s feet on the ground when we brainstorm solutions. He keeps us focused.”
- “Susan’s got an incredible eye for detail.”
- “Michaela, our team’s creative genius, always challenges the group’s thinking and gets everyone’s juices flowing.”
- “Jack is our newest team member. His fresh perspective has given us lots of insight into how other companies are reacting to this trend.”
As in any investment portfolio, diversity equals strength, agility, and staying power. Enlarge your vision to respect these differences and work with the sparks they create, and you’ll be just a few healthy abrasions away from new opportunities and growth.