‘Strength lies in difference…… not similarity’, as Steven Covey famously said.
It was a rare visit to a cocktail bar with some friends prior to an evening out.
As the Master Cocktail Maker and Bartender was turning the mixing of drinks into an art form (I was more than just a little mesmerised), he suddenly leant towards me holding a tall, exotic-looking bottle and said ‘don’t you think that smells of pink?’. All the while stirring, mixing and shaking, he said again, as I was smelling from the top of the bottle, ‘don’t you think that smells of pink?’.
I evidently had looked somewhat askance. I understood the question, I said, but I’ve never considered what ‘pink’ smells like! The delicate scent of a rose, the sweet aroma of marshmallows, even the revolting liquid the dentist asks you to wash your mouth out with, but the smell of ‘pink’, no.
It got me thinking about connections, difference and the powerful differentiators that businesses can gain when they connect the very different dots, if you will, that make a great business.
We all think differently, create differently, process and structure differently. We’re also all innately wired, as humans, to like those that are like us. Those similar to us appear, on the surface anyway, to be easier, and those less like us can appear to be more difficult – sometimes even intimidating.
However, when a group or team comes together with those that are not ‘like’, and find a shared goal, vision, values, business fundamentals or whichever, and harness the power of that difference, it is visceral, gritty and most often very successful.
Leaders and CEOs who surround themselves with those that are better than them and different, that have strengths and expertise where they lack, reap the rewards.
They find a way to connect, to value the differences and the business therefore finds progress that not only unifies, but also delivers greater bottom-line results.
Look at Calgene, the US biotech co. The company has delivered a 1,400% return on investment since 2003 by thinking and doing differently, where the pharmaceutical sector is struggling with a patent expiry crisis. Biotech is a prime example of wide and different thinking.
Some would say to wake up to what’s going on, one needs to smell the coffee, so to speak. Maybe it’s time to consider what pink, or even blue for that matter, smells like in your business.
It might lead more swiftly to the sweet smell of success!