Dare to be Different-ish


I recently stumbled across this photo that I took last Halloween, one of the kids thought it would be funny to put a basketball on the doorstep next to two pumpkins. I’d like to think that he thought that it made a wonderful statement on how society and the corporate world looks at its people but he didn’t, he just thought that it would look funny.
I was reminded by my other son’s Grade 8 graduation and the valedictorian speech to dare to be different.
The reality is that the corporate world doesn’t want anything TOO different. We bandy words around like “disruptive” but that’s the last thing we want. Let’s settle for “challenging”. It seems that the corporate world wants evolution.
It’s understandable, if we are to look at it logically, any company is going to say “but this is how we’ve always done it and it’s always worked for us”, but at some point, it’s going to stop working or just not work as well.
Our large corporations just can’t stomach radical change, each change in its products, branding, marketing or business processes tend to be evolutionary. We also look for young people who are going to come to work and do as they’re told, to not question. As Malcolm Gladwell said “a radical and transformative thought goes nowhere without the willingness to challenge convention.” and I’m not sure the corporate world enjoys people who challenge.
That said, there’s a place for disruptive, I’m just not sure that that place is in too many larger companies. Even the likes of Google, perhaps the gold-standard in disruptive in many respects, tends to buy those disruptive technologies once they’re at least partially proven.
And of course we can’t discount the roles of marketing, branding, sales etc in making that new product work. Right time, right place.
I wonder if we are encouraging a move away from creativity in business, not just the entrepreneurial spirit but also the desire to affect real change in larger corporations.
I hope not, the world would become a greyer place.

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