Hire nutters/pirates/positive deviants? Don’t think so.

Recently…(okay fine just a couple of minutes ago actually), I came across this article on FireBrand –

Why we need to hire nutters, pirates and positive deviants to succeed
 13 September 2011
If you want your company to beat the competition and be the place the best clients and people want to be in – then make sure you’re hiring black sheep. And sometimes be a black sheep yourself. Here’s why.

Too often we hire clones — worthy clones: hard working, ambitious, disciplined, compliant, well educated, often trained and proven in a competitive firm, appropriately groomed, etc. You know the story. Just look around you. Look at yourself perhaps.

To really succeed in a fast changing world where rules of old are being broken every day — as a business or as an executive striving for the most vibrant of career — we have to resist the usual and be brave.

“Our business needs massive transfusions of talent. And talent, I believe, is most likely to be found amongnon-conformists, dissenters and rebels.” So wrote David Ogilvy in “Confessions of An Advertising Man.”

Tom Peters puts it another way in encouraging us to ‘do it differently.’ The story he tells goes something like this. “Most people who want a career on the high seas join the navy. White uniforms, nice caps, salute the flag…” Don’t!! If you want a career on the high seas, be a pirate instead!”

I LOVE THIS IDEA. Be a pirate! A friendly pirate — where the skull and crossbones are still in the company colours — but a pirate none the less. Taking risk, living on the edge a little sometimes, flaunting rules on occasion, laughing loudly as the wind lashes your face and your pursuers drift into the distance behind you. I want to hire people like this.

Miles Young, the global CEO of Ogilvy & Mather, told us to “Hire more nutters.” “Is a nutter the same as a pirate?” I asked him over a cocktail one night at the Zeta Bar in Sydney. “No,” he said. “They’re different. But they serve the same purpose. Nutters think totally differently to us. They come at things from a very different perspective. Pirates are on the same wavelength, but do it their way and with their rules.”

Positive deviants” is another way I have heard this rare type described. Tony Blair in his autobiography describes them as ‘crazy people.’ “In my experience, there are two types of crazy people: those who are just crazy, and therefore dangerous; and those whose craziness lends them creativity, strength and ingenuity and verve.”

Whether a non-conformist, dissenter, rebel, pirate, nutter, positive deviant or a Blair ‘crazy’, make sure your team has a solid sprinkling of them. They will fuel your ideas, thinking, momentum and competitive edge, and quite simply, make your business a winner. And make sure you have a dose of this magic on occasion. It will take you to positive places in your career you never thought you’d get to.

IF you’re either one of the above AND are living in an open-minded/liberal society…start jumping for joy. YOU  just earned yourself a lucky break. This is excellent news.

IF you’re either one of the above BUT are living in a close-minded/conservative society…you’re screwed.

No, really. I live in such a society where people who are deviants/nutters/pirates generally become outcasts. It’s either you live up to  the expectations of social norms to the tee and fit-in OR you become outcasts and shunned by society. (I chose the latter.)

Personally, I’m a deviant. I don’t belong anywhere. I don’t belong with the ‘mainstream’ crowd nor do I fit in with the ‘non mainstream’ crowd. So yes, survival is something that isn’t easy if you’re someone like me. And of course I comes across an article like this, I jump for joy…

…until the realization that our society is probably not too open-minded about taking this step hits me right smack in the head. Then I sink back into depression and continue slugging.

Let’s face it. The very step of hiring nutters/pirates/positive deviants is a turn-off idea for a lot of people. Why? Fear. That’s right you heard(or saw in this case) right. Fear is the force that repels them from taking this action. People fear what they don’t understand – and honestly speaking? Nutters/Pirates/Positive deviants are VERY misunderstood people, no?

To add on, close-minded and conservative societies don’t bother understanding these people. They are repulsed by them, thinking they are ‘possessed’ or ‘a menace’ or simply ‘bad’. What they don’t understand is that these people are humans, just like us. Not aliens from outer-space. They fail to see past the outer layer and deep into the soul. True. They may appear to be different but if one BOTHERS looking deeper, they’d find that these people share similar dreams and goals as us. They just do things in a different way – their way – that’s all.

And that’s where the problem comes in. Like I said, people fear what they don’t understand. Too many leaders out there have been in their comfort zone for too long. They are too used to having things done a certain way that when someone pops in and does things differently, they fear for the worst as things are harder to control.

Here’s a simple cycle:

Lack of Understanding -> Fear -> Repulsion -> Minimal Knowledge -> Lack of Understanding

These leaders do not dare to take risks for fear of truly drastic/negative consequences (like the extinction of a company but i’m just exaggerating here).

I don’t blame them though. Sometimes the price is truly too great to take any risks out of the ordinary.

I’ll be very direct here. The example cited in the article? Miles Young, CEO of global CEO of Ogilvy & Mather? He’s probably one of the very rare and few people who dares to take the step.

So yeah, unless we learn to overcome our initial fear of people who differ from the ‘norm’ of society and start trying to understand them better, this move is not going to be a popular anytime soon.

 

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