Dwight Schrute of “The Office”: a total suck ass with no social skills you might say. Yet Dwight has utility. The perennial outsider may stimulate more penetrating ideas and require better debate in the workplace just because, occasionally, he may have, by pure accident, a brilliant or at least useful idea. If so, and if someone in the “normal” group identifies it as a good idea, that person will be put to the task of advocating for the idea against the preconceptions of the others in the herd. This forced advocacy actually generates insights, agreements, and creative movement.
“Group Think” is dangerous, whether in the cockpit of a plane in which both pilot and co-pilot are in denial, or in a project team, where members overestimate their performance because of shared ego investment. The solution: allow a “diversity” of views. Inefficient, irritating and sometimes confusing, yes, but diverse thinking can have big long term payoffs.
We are in a fearful time because of economic uncertainty. Employers are not immune from this fear in the way they hire. Fear can lead to picking only “safe” and “predictable” and blandly “compatible” employees. If you’re in a business that thrives with a rich mix of potential courses of action, fear is toxic. It limits the range of perceived options. Playing it safe is actually a prescription for failure, not safety. While there may be no delight in Dwight, his different take on the world can be a stimulus for discussion leading to good ideas.

From: Wacky ‘Dwight’ may be just what offices need by Lisa Schencker

Source: Chicago Sun-Times, 4/12/2009.
Via: HighBeam Research Logo HighBeam™ Research
Copyright (c) 2009 Chicago Sun-Times, Inc.

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