“Why don’t you all fade away
My Generation, The Who
“God Save The Queen
God Save The Queen, Sex Pistols
These are two musical refrains that have echoed with me throughout my life. They epitomise – for me – the rebellious element of the 1960s and 1970s respectively. I’m not old enough to personally remember the outrage that The Who unleashed when they hit the public’s attention – but I remember well the impact of the Sex Pistols. The reaction of the media was verging on the hysterical. According to them, the very fabric of Western society was under threat. And I believe there was a similar response at the time of The Who’s emergence on the world.
The really interesting thing for me about both of these “attacks” on the moral fabric of the nation is that the two key players – a certain Roger Daltrey and John Lydon – are now well respected members of civil society – to the extent that both have even appeared on Question Time!!
So what does this tell us about thought diversity? Well, for me, it demonstrates the importance of encouraging radical thinking and allowing diverse views. Both Roger Daltrey and John Lydon are clearly intelligent people with something to say about society – even if you might not agree with what they say. Although the initial reaction to both of them was one of shock and horror – they were both able to carry on with their efforts to create chaos and anarchy. Ironically of course, the two of them were major contributors to trends and fashions (Mods and Punk) which now form the bedrock of British branding: you can’t go far down Oxford Street in London without seeing a t shirt with the red, white and blue bullseye target or an image of The Queen with pins through her nose and ears!
And how does this relate to work I hear you ask? Work is a microcosm of wider society in my mind. Therefore we all probably have a Roger Daltrey or a John Lydon – or a Lady GaGa or a Bob Marley – in our midst. We all have people that we work with who we think are a bit “left field” or “totally off the wall”. But I would encourage – nay, implore – you to think again about those people. Look closely at what they are saying and try to find something in what they are advocating that might just work.
Thought diversity requires CLOUT – commonality, listening, openness, understanding and trust. In order to link a radical idea with a mainstream idea, you need to find the commonality in what someone is saying with what you are trying to achieve. You will then need to listen carefully to what they are saying in order to really glean the essence of what they are advocating. You need to have an open, enabling approach. Diversity of thought also (critically) requires great understanding – on both sides. Every great partnership / collaboration / marriage requires a bit of give and take! Finally, all of the best relationships – especially those between managers and staff – are built on trust. If you can find this CLOUT you will be well on the way to creating a thought diversity friendly workplace.
And then maybe God (or even thought diversity) might just save our generation!