Disruption: Does it hold up? (No, but Diversity Does)

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About seven years ago I wrote a post about “disruption,” which was a common buzzword at the time. The basic point was this: It’s important to pay attention to people who are different than you, rather than to surround yourself with like-minded folks. Unfortunately, I titled it “Leaders Know When to Tolerate High Maintenance People.

That concept holds up, but the vocabulary I used at the time — not so much.

For starters, “disruption” and referring to people as “disruptors” is not terminology I would use today. I also think the title, about knowing “when to tolerate high-maintenance people,” is awful; it’s almost like I’m implying that divergent perspectives come from “rabble-rousers” and should be ignored a lot of the time. That’s a bad implication now, and please know I didn’t even mean to imply it then.

The important point from that post is one that I still stand behind, and that is that diversity is a competitive advantage.

I’ve worked more and more with leadership teams since then, some at the executive level, and those experiences (and data) bear this out. Teams that are like-minded move more slowly, make more mistakes, and have more retention and recruitment problems. Leadership teams with diverse backgrounds, healthy conflict, and open-mindedness have healthier organizations reporting to them.

The concept holds up, but the post does not. Thank you for tolerating this high-maintenance guy.

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