Although Merriam-Webster dictionary pegs the invention of the word “like-minded” to the year 1526, it seems to be experiencing a serious renaissance in this age of social networking. Daily, the Internet provides us with new tools to connect with “like-minded” people (and products) at an increasingly granular level. Recommendations for potential employees, business contacts, romantic partners, movies, music – almost anything – are available to be spoon-fed to us based on our likes and dislikes.
The problem with this – particularly for creative and business-minded thinkers – is that it allows us (almost without knowing) to sink into a cocoon of agreement-driven complacency. In the era of likemind, we must be vigilant about remembering that it is the unexpected connections – and collisions, even – that so often provide us with the insights to overcome nagging difficulties and find truly original solutions.
If there is any single antidote to like-minded complacency, it’s diversity. Not surprisingly, the importance of cultivating teams with a wide range of skills and interests has emerged as a best practice time and again amidst Behance’s research into the inner-workings of the creative and business worlds.
We recently spoke with Scott Thomas, the Design Director of New Media of Obama for America, who likened his campaign experience to the (seemingly impossible) process of building an airplane while in flight. Scott was naturally blessed with a highly diverse team given the nature of the campaign itself, and he couldn’t emphasize the benefits enough: “There is real value in having people with such different backgrounds all working together toward an end goal. It's natural to desire to surround ourselves with like-minded people, but that can detrimental to the group’s generation of diverse ideas.”
As Scott noted later, precisely what the diversity hinges on is less important – it could be a difference in age, background, expertise, personal interests, or political views. The important thing is gathering together a bunch of people who think (and act, and dress, and talk) in different ways – that’s when the sparks really start to fly. When we make a commitment to surrounding ourselves with colleagues who challenge us, we commit to being pushed outside our comfort zone and making new discoveries.
***The Behance team researches productivity and leadership in the creative world. These entries are adapted and edited by Jocelyn K. Glei from the Behance team's past articles and research. Behance runs the Behance Creative Network, the Action Method project management application, the Creative Jobs List, and develops knowledge, products, and services that help creative professionals make ideas happen.