December 12, 2008

Non-Conformity in Our Organizations

What do you do with the non-conformity in your organization?

While hanging out with my family last night, we watched a classic Christmas movie, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. The snowman, voiced by Burl Ives, stated that Rudolph's father attempted to hide his "non-conformity." His father, Donner, attempted to hide his bright shining nose from the world, rather than accepting it for it was. Even when he demonstrated that he had potentially superior flying ability, the arrogance and intolerance to his non-conformity made him the focal point of ridicule, and prevented him from being able to contribute to the efforts of the team.

This got me to thinking about how our organizations and tribes tend to treat non-conformity. Do we hide it, in an attempt to be more successful, or do we realize that the talents and gifts that each individual has been designed with will help us to achieve the strategic mission and goals that we have set out to achieve? Do we ridicule it and treat it as a hindrance, forcing it farther away, or do we cultivate and encourage people to have bold ideas that challenge the status quo, understanding that in so doing, we can possibly move farther faster than we could have otherwise? Finally, do our tribes and organizations attempt to break the non-conformity through the use of annual reviews, training initiatives, and growth plans, forcing each individual to break until they are tightly crammed into the box of our perception?

What would happen if our organizations, rather than breaking and molding our internal customers (remember, the people that get a paycheck from us are our customers too), took the time to identify their non-conformity and natural strengths and invested in developing and refining these unique gifts? What would happen if we actually allowed and encouraged the gifts of non-conformity and natural strengths to be used in our organizations for the benefit of tackling the mountainous goals and challenges (your organization has these I assume) that we have set out to take on?

When the stormy times arrive we may just count on this non-conformity to pull us through. It might be the one thing that we need in order to continue delivering on our mission and vision despite the clouds and darkness. However, if we have pushed it away, or have broken it to fit our own narrow view or focus, we might just find that the success and viability of our cause is cancelled after all, just as Christmas would have been if Rudolph hadn't been around to light up the night sky that night.

Identify the natural strengths and non-conformity in your organization. Encourage people to use the gifts and talents that they have given, and you will survive even in the most difficult of times.

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