From the title of this article I’m sure you’re thinking, they’re mad. Why would I want these people within my organisation?
But what if these employees are the key to your organisations creativity and success? This outside-the-box view can be what makes so many organisations great and keeps them at the top.
Introducing the ‘Originals’
A few days ago I got into a bit of a TED black hole and came across the musings of Adam Grant, Wharton professor, one of the top management thinkers and general super human. I was captivated by of some of the points Grant was making in his talk, and how well they apply to talent acquisition and management.
Grant began his talk with a wonderful, if not quite hard-hitting personal example, in which he was approached by some Wharton students. These students had a ‘great’ idea and we’re looking for investors.
They were going to sell glasses online.
But when asked further about their plans, Grant discovered that no, they had not been working on this all summer, all of them has taken internships. Yes, they did in fact have back up jobs for once they graduated if the business did not succeed. Naturally, like many people Grant was put off. Even more so when the day before launch they still had no working website. Which was the entire backbone of their business.
But, little did Grant know that this business would become one of the most successful online providers of eye wear, and going to be voted one of the most innovative companies across the globe. He missed out on this opportunity because he based his assumptions on what he would have done. Grant had failed to identify the potential of these individuals. What he now calls ‘Originals’.
What are originals?
An original can often be seen as non-conformists, who have new ideas and take action to champion them. People who actually stand up and speak out. These are the people in hindsight you would have wanted to place a bet on. But, they look nothing like you would expect them to.
We’re taught to imagine success to be organised, planned and neat. Particularly those of us ‘precrastinators’ who like to plan out everything, be on time (or ahead of schedule) and dread the thought of putting things off.
So we could in fact, be overlooking these people.
So why should you want these ‘originals’ as employees?
Originals may be a little slow in reaching the finish line, but when they arrive they’re improvers. They’re changing the nature of the game. These traits which originals exhibit typically have a negative perception because of their extremes. However, the right balance can manifest in an unexpected blend of creativity and innovation, which your organisation may otherwise miss out on.
But, why procrastinators?
People can have their most creative ideas when procrastinating. Who hasn’t had that wonderful idea in the shower, whilst walking down the street or even watching the hundredth episode of breaking bad? Studies have actually shown that people who rush in and start straight away are typically viewed as less creative than those who procrastinate moderately [Adam Grant, Originals: how non-conformists move the world].
I’m not talking about those severe procrastinators, who complete everything in a mad rush. But those who do procrastinate moderately were seen as at least 16% more innovative and creative than their peers [Adam Grant, Originals: how non-conformists move the world].
Procrastination can give you the space to incubate on an idea. Creating divergent ideas and non-linear thoughts which often cause those incredible ‘a-ha!’ moments to happen. This method of thinking enables questioning of the status quo and improved ideas to emerge.
For example, Martin Luther King one of the most notable originals was seen continuously working on his script at 3 am the night before and even as he waited to give his speech. [Clarence Jones, Behind the Dream] Half way through, he even abandoned his script and spoke those infamous words that changed a movement and the future to come.
These creative ideas offer your organisation the opportunity to grow and develop not only with the market, but potentially change the market itself. That’s the kind of talent every organisation dreams of: those who craft a unique proposition that decimates the market. And the best thing about these creative originals? They typically stay within your organisation 15% longer. [Adam Grant, Originals: how non-conformists move the world].
Yes. Non-conformists are the ones who challenge the norm. They’re not afraid to stand up and speak out. Often taking the initiative to doubt the default and look for a better solution. Grant says if it’s done well, then these people are opening themselves up to the opposite of déjà vu: vuja de. Seeing something you’ve seen a million times before, in a different light. [Vuja de, George Cartin]
They also face the fear and doubt we feel, and move forward anyway. They see that your biggest regrets aren’t your failures but the opportunities you didn’t take. Instead of focusing on self-depreciating doubt they focus on idea-doubt. Acknowledging that the previous ideas weren’t up to scratch but are motivated to test, change and develop.
So these individuals have the potential to boost my talent mix?
The qualities of originals allow innovation, transformation and revelation to breathe within your organisation, often motivating the staff around them. Creating an amazing atmosphere that you see in organisations like Google, Apple or even Warby Parker. As with Warby Parker, who were quick to get going, but slow to finish, many people who take a little more time to complete their goals typically become an ‘improver’. Now they’re recognised as one of the most innovative companies in the world and leaders in their field.
Originals can take the existing situation and find unusual ways of tweaking or even overhauling ideas and actions to make them more fluid, more successful and overall more effective. These qualities they possess allow for your organisation to innovate within your existing market.
At Zest, we’ve adopted more of the ‘improver’ tactic and we like to think we’re pretty original. Working on years of industry knowledge and turning existing answers on their head and asking why. We’re now able to provide a platform that breaks the norm and actually provides our customers with what they really need and want.