Tell me, if your friend like Nutella out of the jar and I tell you how innovative your company is

There are remarkable results of a study on the topic of overweight. The most significant indicator of a person’s (over)weight is their closest friends’ BMI. Those who have big friends are very likely to be overweight themselves. With all the corresponding consequences. The reason is probably related to contextual perception: You do not measure your weight according to objective criteria (like a BMI), but compare yourself with your friends.

Why is this interesting for the business world? Because contextual perception also plays a role here. A quote: “Since the new boss has been here, we have totally flat hierarchies. I can always get an appointment if I need approval.” This statement is subjectively correct. But no one in an innovative company where agile principles are valued would call that a flat hierarchy.

I worked in the energy industry for several years. Very innovative utility companies exist, but in some municipal utilities, the spirit of an “authority for electricity supply” still prevails. Nevertheless, I have often heard things like “we are changing so fast,” “so much has already happened,” or “the other municipal utilities are also waiting on the issue, we should wait until all the outside conditions are clarified.” So with regard to the digital transformation, the benchmark was not a company like Google or Amazon, but other municipal utilities or colleagues shortly before retirement.

There is the quote: “If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.” And it’s true.

What can you do?

Get an outsider’s perspective. Although I have a great deal of self-interest in doing this with consultants, there are other ways: talking to pioneers from different industries. Sending employees to conferences, bar camps, or hackathons. But please not only your elite organizational designers but also “normal” colleagues. Simply get out of your own comfort zone. Even if at first puts you on edge.

About the author

Daniel Herrmann

I am a Game Thinker, Consultant, and fanatic believer of theory Y.  My wife says I am unintentionally amusing. On average only 2 out of 100 people become more stupid by talking to me.

Co-Founder of Monokel Consulting, Serious PlayScape and RokaEnergy.