Why I founded a business that values the diversity of thought, first
As Charles Duhigg writes in his fascinating bestselling book The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do and how to change - “the difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do”. Can we perhaps apply this to the value attributed more and more to the power of diversity in thought, rather than habit? If so, the difference for me in how you currently think and how you would like to think is adopting new ways of thinking, differently. It’s this struggle between what we ‘should’ do and what we ‘could’ do that I see time and time again with employers I speak to who want to be more innovative and creative in their approach to solving the myriad of challenges in attracting young people to join them, but who are also too often pulled back to the (immediacy) of the here and now focused on filling live vacancies. The problem here is that in doing so many ‘plan to fail, by failing to prepare’. But I believe we can learn from Duhigg’s own thoughts, and use these to collectively Think Differently about the ways that we respond to the needs of the next generation already entering our workforces. And it’s one of the reasons why I left my successful corporate career behind and founded The Branding Man this year.
Breaking old habits
Whether we like it or not habits govern the way that each of us live our lives. The good, the bad and the ugly. Duhigg’s explanation for how we can change these habits (for the better) relies upon our ability to break the strong link between our cues (or triggers) and the reward we get (our dopamine hit) by breaking the routine - how you react. Think of it like this - your smartphone pings a notification and you instantly grab your phone to check ‘what’s new’ in the world. Here we’d be looking for ways that you can resist the temptation to do so. To illustrate, my latest attempt to break routine here is often to leave my smart phone in another room away from where I am working/in my pocket or bag. Substituting the routine is therefore seen as being the key to breaking the cycle of habit. Not as easy as it sounds when you consider that 40% of what we do is done on autopilot, without thought. Our brain’s way of saving energy - less effort. If you apply this to the traditional 9-5 ‘working day’ that’s 3h 12m where we are effectively sleepwalking, accepting that the things we ‘could’ do might just be too much effort to bring to fruition, especially when our cues (‘we need to fill our vacancies’) and our reward (applications received and hires made) too often take centre stage.
The future of workplace diversity is here…
…and so is Generation Z. That’s why it’s important that we embrace the diversity to be found in thought. Deloitte have already published a compelling argument in favour of this ‘new player’ in the diversity mix - embracing the differences in the way we think is the best way of engaging people in the workplace, and creating real change in businesses. My own experience at EY supports this. As part of a high-potential leaders of the future programme I was no stranger to TRACOM, covering the core aspects of individuals: Behavioral Style, Emotional Intelligence and Mindset - insights into my own social intelligence and that of my team members allowed us to work together and achieve bold things in employer branding (I’m Amiable if anyone is interested). By appreciating our different ways of thinking we were able to find new ways of doing things together, in turn creating a culture which was open to new ideas and ways of doing things, which as it happened encouraged me to think differently about where I went next - to found my own business.
What it means to Think Differently
Recruitment is broken. There are too many voices saying similar things, all fighting for the attention of our young people. We Think Differently when we are:
•Confidently sharing opinions that help to DRIVE POSITIVE CHANGE
•Recognizing the true value of inclusion to be rooted in DIVERSITY OF THOUGHT
•Supporting common issues facing young people when making career choices using the POWER OF COLLABORATION
•Holding ourselves ACCOUNTABLE to the young people we seek to serve
I Think Differently in a number of ways but those that energise me are those where I feel like I’m learning something new. That could be from books I’m reading, conversations I have professionally and personally, and from staying in touch with the challenges our young people are facing. It’s why I have created a new community on LinkedIn (which I’d love like-minded individuals to join) and it’s why I love what I do so much. It’s important more than ever before to love what you do.
Get your thinking hat on ;)
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