Embrace Weird To Find The Next Revolution

Established companies don’t like misfits, renegades, weird people. It’s a fact. I always ask leaders of established businesses if they keep their eyes open for a Steve Jobs to hire; their answer is no.

I’m not surprised. See, most leaders of established businesses are preoccupied with maintaining the status quo, keeping the wheels turning, making sure nothing disrupts their day to day. So, bringing in misfits is out of the question because it means chaos.

Yet chaos is what’s needed to find the next revolution!

No company is future-proof, but every company must embrace the challenge of disrupting themselves. The challenge for established companies is to balance optimizing the core business and inventing their next growth platform, at the same time; that’s the recipe for reinvention.

For an example of how that looks in practice, checkout the video illustration below:

How do you achieve this?

A New Perspective

New ideas, the types that change the game, are born on the edge; at the intersection of different domains. And because no one person is the sole creator of industries, a key skill all companies must develop is that of networking outside of their domain.

Yes, that means getting out of your comfort zone and hanging out with weird people.

Over at The Blueprint, Rosie Yakob writes that the future belongs to the Scenius, a challenge to the prevailing myth of the lone genius creating the future. In the 1970s, Brian Eno posited instead the idea of Scenius. “Scenius,” he said, “stands for the intelligence and the intuition of a whole cultural scene. It is the communal form of the concept of the genius.”

Innovation is a team sport; which means collaboration. And, among the conditions required for Scenius is a tolerance for weirdness.

 “Hang out with weird and thou shalt become more weird. Hang out with dull and thou shalt become more dull. It’s that simple.” – Tom Peters

The new stuff doesn’t begin in the mainstream, the first industries to try new stuff are the creative ones:

I’d take “tolerance for weirdness” a step further: embrace weird.

You don’t have a choice because if you don’t value weird, you don’t value innovation. Weird are your black sheep, people who don’t fit in, the misfits, renegades, insurgents, the ones who are not satisfied with the status quo.

Overall you’re looking for a new perspective, and you don’t get that from people who think and act like you. As a business leaders, unleashing and recruiting misfits is the single most important activity you can do to unstuck yourself from the pull of maintaining the status quo.

The Future is found and created on the edge, not in the mainstream; that means you have to hang out with weird.

Bottom line: Collaboration is a competitive advantage in the Next Economy, so any company that doesn’t know how to collaborate is ripe to be disrupted by those who do. Collaboration to create the future means working with people who don’t think and act like you.