Why We Need A Culture Of Weird

“The best” describes a culture of individuals who conform to rules and expectations more closely than others.

They spell more accurately; answer history questions more correctly and score the highest mark on linear algebra exams.

“The best” do a masterful job of performing their task to comply with the norms expected.

They “colour inside the lines” perfectly.

There are certain cultures where we want people with the highest marks. It would not be comforting, for example, knowing the pilot scored a blistering 25% on his aircraft landing test. Nor would we trust our life to a heart surgeon who had a bypass surgery success rate of 4 out of 10.

These types of professions we want the best and need “in the box” thinking and performance.

In an organization, however, conformance to a set of rules or operating best practices does not guarantee success. Being extremely competent at implementing a CRM “best practice” does not deliver a strategic advantage when all other organizations are endeavouring to implement the same capability.

When organizations conform to a best practice or a standard way of doing things, they all look alike; have the same mediocre culture, and to the market, they are invisible.

They all are members of the common herd who struggle to be seen and gain competitive advantage.

Conformance to a best practice might improve operating performance but it will NEVER create strategic success.

Organizations who consistently succeed have a culture of not merely thinking outside the box, but creating a new box to play in.

They are masters of contrarianism; going in the opposite direction to the momentum of the crowd.

They are driven to separate themselves from the common approach to anything; they despise the herd.

Remarkable organizations don’t press to be “the best”; they press to be “the weirdest”.

They strive to build a culture of weird, odd, crazy, quirky, strange, “out there”, ridiculous and unusual people.

These are the signs of weirdness they look for in people; they form the basis of their talent search and recruitment.

Weird people:

– Find the notion of doing it like everyone else repugnant.

– Hang out with other weirdos.

– Aren’t taken seriously by the crowd because they don’t comply with the rules.

– Are quite often the target of bullies.

– Are infatuated with technology and the cool things it can do.

– Were often In the Principle’s office as a student.

– Hate following the rules.

– Turn out to be leaders of retro fashion.

– Invent their own language to describe the latest trends. Why say “strategically inappropriate” when you can say “CRAP”?

– Eat way too much pizza.

– Tend to enjoy their own company; they don’t have time for faceless crowds.

– Are fuelled by the art of the possible.

– Chase stuff that infatuated them in the moment.

– Aren’t afraid to fail; they do it all the time.

– Ask “Why?” in every conversation they have.

– Don’t use labels to define people. Weird is normal; it’s all they know.

The weird shall – no they MUST – lead organizations to win in the crazy business world we live in.

And they must define organizational culture.

Their future depends on it.

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