Birds of a Feather May Be Turkeys


Birds of the same plumage fly together. It’s true. Given a choice, most of us will seek out like-minded people, people with whom we feel comfortable, with whom we don’t fight. Visit a company’s cafeteria and you’ll find that people are seated at the tables in groups of the same discipline, department, or ethnicity. As a general rule, relationships will not thrive when there are profound differences in values, abilities, temperaments, or lifestyles.

Differences attract, but more often they repel. People sometimes get into relationships with other people, sometimes even into conflicts. This can be exciting for a while, but if the directors don’t agree on core values, such relationships become artificially friendly or fall apart over time. Collaboration Opportunities.

However, this rule of thumb must be adapted in science, technology and business. Skilled managers often consciously put together teams of very different people. They are willing to give up the comfortable and easy feelings associated with cloning. as groups to bring different skills to solve a problem. Such a team can include designers, engineers, physicists, marketers, social scientists, and lawyers. Dealing with diversity is not easy.

Accountants, engineers, computer specialists, lawyers, psychologists and marketers do not speak the same professional language. Each field has its jargon, its own version of alphabet soup. Specialization always produces groups with their own ideas about concepts and terminology. If two members of a team are engineers, there is still no one-to-one correspondence. You will have some vocabulary problems if you are an electrical engineer and

the other is a mechanical engineer. But these vocabulary problems are tiny compared to those that arise when accountants talk to engineers or designers. A skillful manager is needed. Cultural chasms must be bridged.

The differences go beyond vocabulary: values, goals, and intentions can also be different. The more companies go global, the more likely it is that team members will come from different cultures. They differ not only in the approach to a technical or marketing problem. but how they see the world. We will have more of it, not less. Unfortunately, our knowledge of managing diversity is more of an art than a science.