May 7 – May 20
What if you really liked different?
Jelly beans, those sweet little treats, come in all sorts of colors and flavors. On the surface they seem pretty much the same — similar sized outsides, same jelly insides. Upon closer look they aren’t. Jelly beans are, well, different. Some jelly beans are solid coated, some are speckled and some are even misshapen. The real wonderfulness of jelly beans? They don’t all taste alike. Of course, there are the classic flavors like lemon, lime and orange. Then there are jelly beans with flavors like liver, popcorn, rotten egg, ear wax, dirty socks and …
Why put in flavors that someone may not like? Because, no matter what they look like on the outside or what they taste like on the inside, someone will like them. The more variety, the wider appeal. The wider the appeal, the more new flavor ideas are invented and consumed. Their intrinsic and inherent diversity is deliciously valuable. Treat everyone you work with, everyone you know and everything you do like jelly beans.
resolve to: enjoy flavor
Why connect our work relationships to a jelly bean analogy? Why not, say, talk about M&Ms®? As employees the latter are no muss, no fuss and always there in readiness (not melted) when you need them. Because the difference in the two candies is a comment on true diversity. The latter candy is all the same, except for a few different colors, on the outside and all the same on the inside. This is homogeneousness, not diversity. Too many companies claim that because they have people of different colors, genders, races, ages, et al, they are diverse. Look deeper into their true culture, however, and you most often find their policies and procedures influence everyone to act, perform and be alike.
Jelly beans value difference and different outcomes. The consequences of all-the-same is a simple equation, 1 + 0 =1, one input plus zero difference equals one, predetermined solution. As a company, department, team, et al, you need creativity and innovation, a diverse set of ideas and answers to succeed and survive. This won’t come from a group of all-the-same nature. All-the-same may have worked in the past for single-tasked, factory jobs, but even those repetitive jobs now require qualitative thinking, judgment and reasoning. 21st century businesses and work need an inclusive business strategy to succeed.
So, the next time you think about sending that boisterous, opinionated, rotten-egg-tasting jelly bean employee over to HR to be retrained and assimilated, stop and rethink. That person is probably just the flavor you need to attract a new target market or expand an old one; find a way to refine a current process or invent a better one; see work from a different perspective that results in a whole new product and profit line. Toss out that flavor and you wind up tossing out your company’s new possibilities. Keep tossing, so all the employees are the same perfect shape, size and taste, and pretty soon you have a business with as few offerings and solutions as you have varieties of flavors. The fastest way to a flash-in-the-pan, non-sustainable growth and future I know.