Companies are built around their culture, and are underpinned by systems - human and technological alike - that are embodiments of this culture. As companies grow, these systems gain both momentum and inertia - they become more powerful, but harder to steer.
Systemic momentum is a powerful asset. It frequently solidifies a company’s leadership in their field of expertise – it reinforces success, creating a cycle wherein to do things in any way other than the current praxis seems foolish, counterproductive. This in turn further entrenches that way of thinking, that culture, those systems.
When conditions align, this results in a local maximum of performance - success begets success. There is, however, a cost that mostly goes unnoticed. We live in turbulent times. Change - sometimes unprecedented, exponential, disruptive change - a relentless. This volatility bodes poorly for overly entrenched systems. The inertia that makes it difficult to steer highly successful systems becomes an extreme liability in the face of radical change, and the need to adapt or perish.
It seems almost inexplicable, but we have seen this repeatedly in the market. The tectonic shift of disruptive change apparently caught companies like Kodak with digital photography, Blockbuster with Netflix, and Yellow Cab with Uber unaware, and they seemed unable to respond.
Seemed is the operative word. These companies were, one and all, technically capable of responding to those changes. They had the scale, the technology, the assets, the capital, the talent pool to pivot, acquire, and execute their way out of the predicament they were in. And yet… they were victims of their own systemic inertia.
It is absurd to think that no one in these companies saw it coming. Many did, many raised the alarm, many advocated, agitated and even pleaded for change. All were ignored, silenced, and sometimes even dismissed for being troublesome. Malcontents. Not Team Players.
This is still happening. Today. In your company. If you’re lucky.
If I’m lucky?!
Having such divergent people in your organization, in your ecosystem, can be not only an incredibly powerful competitive advantage, it can be difference between a resilient, thriving organization and an extinct one.
It is, however, necessary to be mindful of your own “high momentum, high inertia” system, and learn to compensate for it - to deliberately seek out and elevate divergent points of view, and incorporate them in both your decision-making process, and your execution.
This is called fostering cognitive diversity. Different backgrounds, experiences, demographics, ultimately they stand in for different ways of thinking.
There is no cognitive diversity like neurodiversity. And no one more likely to have divergent thinking that the neurodivergent - having literally different neurological and cognitive architectures. Nowhere are you likelier to find novel approaches and unique points of view.
It is worth remembering, though, that these are the very individuals that your high-momentum, high-inertia systems frequently fail to capture, nourish, engage, retain, or even listen to.
Neurability can you help you. We set the standard for the adjustments for neurodivergent individuals, whether in-house, or as a managed workforce.
In our next article we will explore the story of one such neurodivergent person at work, and the consequences these experiences it have.