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“Baa” to culture fit

You see it all the time. “Culture fit” as part of a recruitment ad. And it’s time to rethink that phrase – or at least redefine what it means.

Yes, I agree. Unity and shared purpose are important to your company’s success. You need everyone to share your mission and vision and values, so you’re all rowing in the same direction. Plus, whether it’s in person or over video calls, you’re going to be spending a lot of time with your people, so you want to feel like you can get along well and avoid unnecessary conflict.

Yet too often, “culture fit” is just another way of saying let’s get “more of what we have.” It’s a natural tendency to want to surround ourselves with people like us. Harvard grads recruit Harvard grads. Sorority sisters network with sorority sisters. Procter & Gamble alums look more favorably on hiring fellow P&Gers. Veterans feel more comfortable with other veterans.

Wake up, sheeple.

The net result is a room full of lookalike and think-alike people. Not exactly the most fertile breeding ground for breakthrough ideas.

You see, it’s a proven fact: diverse leadership teams develop more innovative ideas, and more innovative ideas deliver higher profitability. Surround yourself with people willing to challenge your ideas and assumptions and new doors will open. Fill the room with clones and groupthink takes over.

What’s the answer?

Go outside your comfort zone and look for talent with a different background and mindset than you. (I’m not saying fill your team with people you don’t like, but think a little more broadly.) Rather than mining the same vein over and over, consider recruiting from parallel industries instead of your own. Look for skill sets instead of resumés. Seek potential in nontraditional places.

If you do, I predict you’ll soon find yourself in a room full of innovative, profitable executives.

And profitable culture is the kind of culture anyone can fit into.

Until we meet again.
Desmund Adams
CEO, Focus & Find

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