By: Hugo Balta
Hugo is a Multimedia Executive, Diversity & Inclusion Consultant. For more articles like these visit his blog Straight Talk
One of my most prized possessions is my grandfather’s silver pocket watch. I recently took it to get serviced and had a chance to peek inside. I was amazed by the internal mechanism.
Despite what seemed like disorganization, a series of gears were working in unison. That 17th-century technology inspired me, in part, to exchange a 21st-century management model favoring groupthink for one that promotes collaboration through diversity and inclusion.
The pyramid scheme
Most company hierarchies are triangular. One person sits at the top of a pyramid and everyone else is a subordinate. There are varying levels of authority figures promoting assimilation as a means to get ahead for the rest of the employees making up the company’s foundation. Its success is based on the harmony of having a team that is essentially all the same. A homogenous workforce exerts power by holding tightly to customs proclaiming, “This is how we do things around here.”
There is no denying the effectiveness of this corporate structure. But you can’t ignore that the increasingly outdated model promotes prejudice, stunts innovation and compromises a company’s long-term growth.
Management hires people who don’t challenge them but affirm their beliefs. Any nonconforming staffer is branded as “not getting it” and rated poorly in performance reviews. The like-minded faithful tend to support unanimity without question, even if something is inaccurate, to prevent discord in the group.
This setup has many similarities to a classic investment pyramid scheme. Those who benefit are the ones in the corner offices with natural light coming from their spectacular top-floor window views. They create a uniform workplace environment, dependent on the support of a large base, to the advantage of one person’s vision.
Today’s largely millennial workforce sees old-world bureaucratic systems favoring decision-making by big titles as unattractive. These people seek positions of influence, which enable them to collaborate with others by integrating their individualities. The key to success isn’t in a company’s ability to create order, but how it introduces a little chaos.