Why You Should Work With People You Don’t Like

March 5, 2011

Innovation Framework[This article originally appeared on the American Express Open Forum]

Contrary to “conventional wisdom,” opposites don’t do NOT attract. While individuals who are different than you might initially seem intriguing, in the long run these differences will invariably push you apart. This fact has been scientifically proven. Science aside, consider your personal relationships. If you prefer to be organized, do you praise your messy partner for his clutter? Probably not. And if you have a propensity for disorganization, don’t you cringe at your partner’s earnest pleas for orderliness?

The fact is, opposites don’t attract. They repel.

What implications does this have on business success?

Think about the people you surround yourself with at work. Are they like you? Do they think the same way? Do they have similar interests, skills and strengths? Probably.

In fact, if you look at any group of people who work effortlessly together, odds are the individuals share a lot in common with one another. They might have similar backgrounds, expertise, hobbies or personalities. This is natural. As a result, teams that lack diversity are the norm.

This desire for similarity has inherent advantages. When people think the same way, act the same way, speak the same way, and use the same language, things get done more quickly.

But is this ultimately good for business?

To answer this question, consider research done by Clint Bowers and two of his colleagues at the University of Central Florida. They studied how the homogeneity of personalities within work groups affected performance by combining the results of thirteen studies involving five hundred teams.

At first glance, there wasn’t much difference in the performance of diverse teams compared to homogeneous teams. But that wasn’t the whole story. The types of tasks the teams had to perform had a significant impact on performance.

Bowers and his colleagues went further and distinguished “low-difficulty” tasks from “high-difficulty” tasks based on how much the tasks activities involved uncertainty, complexity and demand for high-level processing.

Read the rest of this article on the American Express OPEN Forum

The Pygmailion Effect and You

December 6, 2010

The Personality Poker book is now available. Be sure to buy your copy today. Each book comes with a deck of the specially designed poker cards. And no, you do not need to know anything about poker to play! The only way you can lose is if you don’t have a personality.

This is the fifth in a series of videos about Personality Poker. Today I discuss something known as the Pygmalion effect: how others perceive you impacts your behaviors.

We Have Liftoff…

October 30, 2010

On Thursday, the Personality Poker book started rolling into stores everywhere.

People have been telling me about sightings in airport books stores and Barnes & Noble stores.

Yesterday, I walked into my first bookstore – the MIT COOP – and there it was, face out.  Check out the picture.

Today I will be traveling around Boston looking for the book in stores.

If YOU see the book in a store, please take a picture of it – ideally with you – and send it to us at info@24-7innovation.com.

We would love to see your smiling face holding a copy of the book.

We will be running a competition in the near future to encourage people to go exploring for the book.

If you haven’t done so, please check out our new Personality Poker book website.

Ok, off to check out some stores!

One Day More…

October 27, 2010

For me, tomorrow is a big day.

My third book, “Personality Poker,” will be available in less than 24 hours.

A lot of people have asked me what it is like to publish a book.  Well, let me tell you…

It is exciting and nerve-racking.

Sleep is a rare commodity these days and my social life is even rarer.

Writing the book was the easy part.  Promoting it is all consuming.

I compare the past 2 months to a political campaign.  It’s go go go until the election day.  Or in my case, until book launch.

The marketing activities have been mind boggling…

We created a very cool video game that simulates the Personality Poker experience.  If you did not try it out yet, you MUST!  It is fun.  It looks like a Las Vegas slot machine with spinning wheels.  And it is typically quite accurate.  You can even share your hands on Facebook.

We launched a new website today for the book where you can download the introduction and first chapter of the book.  Just sign-up on the bottom of the page.  (as we are transitioning to the new website now, there might be a few hiccups)

We have been tweeting non-stop on @perspokerbook.  Be sure to follow us to get a dozen tweets a day with excerpts from the book.  We also have a Facebook fanpage that was recently launched.

In addition, I have been giving speeches non-stop for the past 6 weeks.  We have been running a massive outreach campaign.  And I am doing radio/podcast interviews during my spare time (weekends typically).

Yesterday, after giving a speech and spending the day with a client, I decided to take a nap at 7:30PM.  Bad idea!  I didn’t set my alarm and woke up at 6AM.  Fortunately, my speech today isn’t until noon.  But that gives you an idea of how crazy things have been.

Tomorrow, Amazon.com will start accepting reviews for the book.  This is when it gets interesting.  Although some of the people who received the book will write glowing reviews just because they know me, hundreds of books have been sent to people I don’t know.  People who are not biased by a friendship.  Waiting for these reviews can be, if I am honest, a bit stressful.

The challenge with a book like this is that it is based on an experience: a speech I have given to tens of thousands of people.  When someone attends a Personality Poker session and then reads the book, they truly get the power of it.  But it is something that has to be tried to fully appreciate.  Many people will read the book and not play the game.  That is a shame, because it is simple to play, takes very little time, and is a lot of fun.  We have some great reviews already from people who have played the game and seen its power.

I remember the day the first copy of the book arrived at my house.  It was thrilling to see and hold the finished product.  It is much more impressive in person than it is in a picture, so please be sure to check it out in a local retailer (it will be in Barnes & Noble and Borders stores everywhere and in many airport book stores).  By the way, the cards are supposed to stay attached to the book and not removed.  This way they are always with you for easy access.

As the book launches, I will be interviewing readers, taking pictures at bookstores, and doing other things to share my experience with you.

It is my hope that this becomes massively popular through word of mouth – friends telling friends.  This book is unique and can be life changing.  I hope you agree and decide to help spread the word.

Thank you in advance for all of your support.

The Golden Rule is Tarnished

October 18, 2010

This is the third in a series of videos about Personality Poker. Today I discuss why the Golden Rule is bad advice.

You can pre-order the book now. Each book comes with a deck of the specially designed poker cards.

Opposites Don’t Attract

October 14, 2010

I remember a project I worked on many years ago. I was leading a large team and had a very large budget. I chose John to co-lead with me because we got along so well. I am a creative, spontaneous, and enthusiastic person and John was pretty much the same. The team loved working with us. We were fun, engaging, and motivating.

And the project was a huge waste of money.

The problem was that John and I got caught up in the novelty of our work. We were too focused on developing new ideas and making sure people were happy. But we never got any work done. We were a total failure.

In hindsight, this failure probably could have been predicted. Our styles were too similar.

In fact, if you look at any group of people who effortlessly work well together, odds are the individuals share a lot in common with each other. They might have similar backgrounds, expertise, interests, or personalities. This is natural.

The reason? Contrary to conventional wisdom, opposites do not attract.

When it comes to interpersonal relationships, we are attracted to people who are like us. Psychologists have extensively documented the power of similarity when it comes to liking other people. In general, we tend to like those individuals the most who seem the most similar to us.

Therefore we surround ourselves with people who share similar thought processes, similar energy levels, and similar personalities.

But as I learned on that project many years ago, partnering with people who are too much like you can lead to disastrous results.

Contrast that experience with the project that immediately followed. Learning from that failure, I brought in a great planner, Ray, as my wingman on the team. I made sure I treated him as my equal. He was in my face on nearly a daily basis, forcing me to stay on plan and budget. I wanted to avoid the rigors of his planning as I felt that they were limiting and restrictive. But he was unrelenting.

In the end, although we may have annoyed each other, it was one of the most successful projects I’ve ever worked on. In fact, it was one of the most successful initiatives of the firm, one people still talk about nearly fifteen years later.

From this project, I learned something incredibly important:

“The person you like the least may be the person you need the most.”

Although Ray annoyed me on nearly a daily basis, it was because of his persistence that we were so successful. Left to my own devices, I would be chasing “bright shiny objects.” He forced me and the team to stay focused on the plans, deliverables, and timeframes. The combination of my creativity blended with his rigor was the key to success.

Although it is human nature to want to be around people who are like you, in order to be successful you need to partner with people are different. You need to surround yourself with people that complement your abilities and illuminate your blind-spots.

When you have a difficult problem to solve, instead of going to some someone who thinks like you, find someone who is your opposite. Yes, it is quite possible that that individual will annoy you and not give you the answer you secretly want. But that might be the very reason they have something powerful to contribute to you.

If you want to learn who can best contribute to YOUR success, check out our Personality Poker book and game.

The Person You Like the Least is the Person You Need the Most

October 13, 2010

This is the second in a series of videos about Personality Poker. Today I discuss the myth that opposites attract.

You can pre-order the book now. Each book comes with a deck of the specially designed poker cards.

The Four Principles of Personality Poker

October 11, 2010

We will be releasing a series of videos about Personality Poker over the coming weeks.  Each will talk about a specific concept or insight from the book.  You can pre-order the book now.  Each book comes with a deck of the specially designed poker cards which will be demonstrated in the next video.  Enjoy!

Read our Change This Manifesto

October 6, 2010

Today, the good folks at ChangeThis.com published my Personality Poker manifesto.  It is a quick read that will provide you some of my thoughts on why organizations struggle to become innovative…and what can be done about it.

Read it/download it here

Here’s the excerpt that Change This included on their website…

Issue 75 – 01 | Personality Poker: How to Create High-Performing Innovation Teams
By Stephen M. Shapiro Published Oct. 6, 2010 12:00 a.m.

“The desire for equality permeates everything we do and always has, as can be seen in many of our age-old philosophies. For example, we see it in the Golden Rule, which is often interpreted as ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.’ However, who really cares what you want? After all, treating people as you want to be treated doesn’t address the needs and desires of others.

Buying into these doctrines, myths, and lies leads to pasteurizing, homogenizing, and sanitizing everyone in order to fit people into one mold and think the same way so they can then gather together in like-minded harmony. There’s a good reason why they call it a company culture, since organizations are, in actuality, mini-cults. Instead, we should consider living by the doctrine:

The person you like the least may be the person you need the most.”

The New Personality Poker Cards are Available!

September 14, 2010

The Personality Poker book is available in 6 weeks and 2 days.

But starting today, you can buy the new and improved Personality Poker cards from the “Change This” site.  These are the guys who bring you the Change This manifestos.

For the past few years, we have been selling the cards for $200 for 6 decks with instructions.  But after printing 50,000 decks of cards, our production costs have dropped significantly.  Therefore we are pleased to offer the cards for:

Aside from the reduced price (over 50% less), the cards have 2 major improvements.

  1. The cards have new words: We partnered with a psychology professor from Columbia College who did some scientific analysis.
  2. The cards have a new design: When you hold them in your hand you can read the words along the side.  This makes playing the game even easier.

If you want to energize a meeting, supercharge your innovation team, or just have some fun, you’ll want to get your decks of Personality Poker now.

P.S. The 800 CEO READ guys, the owners of Change This, wrote a blog entry on Personality Poker

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