Tag Archive for: Thinking Differently

Person Reading - The Medici effect book review

The Medici effect book review

The name ‘The Medici effect’ is taken from the ‘The House of Medici’ an Italian banking and political family that funded and supported innovations in art, finance, and music. These innovations included ideas ranging from double-entry bookkeeping, Opera to the piano.

What jumped out to me was:

This is an important book that explores why we need to look at the intersections between different siloed disciplines to see breakthroughs. The book goes on to help us explore how looking at the same problem from various places gives new insight and discovery.

I also really enjoyed the way the author brought to light why diversity is essential in this process, as diverse thinkers bring not only themselves to the problem but also their network of contacts and relationships.

There is also some wonderful thinking about the quantity and quality of ideas. My key takeaway is that it’s important to have a good quantity of ideas so you can pick the quality ones. This type of thinking has been used by many successful characters including Alexander Graham Bell and Richard Branson.

Operating at the intersection as the author describes it is a fantastic place though slightly scary at times. What it gives you is the opportunity to create innovative ideas and new spaces with the threshold for success often lower because no one else is operating there.

Think about it, if you want to become the very best in your field you have to compete with everyone who has gone before you and everyone who is trying to do it now. If you want to achieve something at the intersection you may be the only person or team in that field so your bar to success is far lower.

I believe neurodivergent individuals naturally gravitate towards the intersection of different fields and ideas.

Why read this book?

It’s insightful, engaging, has been a bestseller for a number of years and has been included in many academic programs. If you take on board what is written it will change your attitude to innovation and potentially increase your opportunity for success.

This is my take on The Medici Effect. It would be great to hear your thoughts.

diversity is being invited to the dance

Neurodiversity – Is being invited to ‘The Party’

Paul Bright lived alone, and he wanted to plant his annual crop of runner beans in his veggie patch. He was getting old and finding it very difficult to work the patch. His only son John used to help him, but he was behind bars doing 10 years in Broadmoor maximum security prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described what was going on: “Dear John, it looks like I won’t be able to get my runner beans in this year. I’m getting far too old to dig the ground. I know if you were here you would help me. I know you would be happy to dig the ground, just like in the old days. Love you, dad.” A few days later the old man received this from his son: “Dear Dad, don’t dig up the allotment! That’s where the bodies are buried. Love John.” At 2 AM the next morning, officers from Northampton’s murder investigation unit arrived and dug up the entire back garden without finding any bodies. They apologised to the old man and left. The same day the old man received another letter from his son, “Dear Dad, you can get on with planting the beans now. That was the best I could do under the circumstances. All my love, John.”

 “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein

Although John met his dad’s needs in an unorthodox way, I do think this story illustrates the fact that we need to approach individual situations differently. We must think outside the box with diversity as ironically neurodiversity is all about thinking differently and embracing unique styles and ways of doing stuff.

To do this well there must be an invitation for people to be their most effective at work.

So where does diversity start?

Diversity starts with how we greet people into our organisations and make it okay for them to ask for adjustments. This is more than just window dressing, it is about making it part of our culture that it is okay to ask for what we need. To ensure that each person is treated as an individual this process always needs to start with a conversation.

With neurodiversity and other hidden disabilities, individuals may have a history that means they are uncomfortable about sharing what they need. They may take some convincing that it is safe to do so within the organisation they’re working in. This could be due to several reasons including bullying, earlier work cultures or the fact that when they’ve asked for support before it has been refused or made so difficult that they don’t want to engage in the process again. There is also the possibility that an individual may not be aware that there is anything wrong until something changes in their work environment that highlights the difficulty.

What is key in all of this is the invitation for support and that the organisation including colleagues, managers and support functions is actively looking to support individuals to show and celebrate the power of neurodiversity.

Coming back to the conversation, diversity starts with asking questions about the following areas:

  • What do they think they need to bet their best at work?
  • What have they found helpful or would like to try?
  • What has worked well for them previously?
  • What makes things more difficult at work?
  • Who do they need to talk to to make these discussions effective?

What is also important to consider is the role and work environment. Think about things like:

  • What aspects of the role may be more challenging for them than others?
  • What could be done to overcome these challenges?
  • What environmental changes could be helpful to support work routines.

This is of course just the starting point and should be used to get the conversation going. The diversity conversation is built around trust and best intentions. Without this, it is all a waste of time, we need to want people to be their very best and most effective at work. If people feel threatened or endangered, they are unlikely to perform at their best and be unwilling to discuss this topic.

If you have not already, I would encourage you to start having these kinds of conversations in your organisation.

If you need help with this?

Please get in contact.

Find out how this links with my blog about Equality.

Tightrope walker equality and neurodiversity

What does equality and neurodiversity mean?

Jean Francois Gravelot “The Great Blondin” was the first person to tightrope walk across Niagara Falls quarter-mile gap. He was not just content with crossing the gap once, he did it over 300 times and each time pushed himself to a new level of difficulty. This included cooking an omelette in the middle, sitting down, and lowering a rope to collect a bottle of wine from the ‘Maid of the mist’ boat below and even carrying his manager on his back.

On one occasion he crossed with a wheelbarrow to the rapturous applause of the crowd. On reaching one side he approached a Royal party who were watching him and asked if one of them would like to make the trip inside the wheelbarrow. He was declined, so he asked the crowd if anyone else would like to make the crossing in the wheelbarrow and no one spoke up except for one small old woman. He crossed successfully with her in the wheelbarrow to rapturous applause. It was reported later that this woman was his mother.

Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.

Vernā Myers

Before we can even begin to engage in such feats as Jean achieved at Niagara, we first need the opportunity to get involved. That means being able to take part and in the words of Vernā Myers being asked to dance. I would like to take this further though and explore what it takes to get to the point where you can dance like nobody’s watching.

Because diversity is about being asked to take part, equity is about having the transport to get there, inclusion is about being asked to get involved and equality is performing like no one is watching.

Diversity – is being invited to ‘The Party’

For equality and neurodiversity to be a reality this is a statement of intent for neurodivergent individuals.

It is about knowing that you can bring your best self to the situation you are working on. What is important is that this is not a half-hearted attempt at inclusivity but instead a concerted effort to invite those that think differently to the table. This is not one of those invites when you say you want people to come, but you do not expect them to turn up! Find out more here.

Equity – is having proper transport to get there

This is more than just supplying a bus or tightrope but instead supplying proper transport for the individuals that have been invited. For neurodivergent individuals, this is about thinking about the environment in terms of the tools that are supplied and the way things are done. For example, it could be about creating quiet spaces or supplying assistive technology tools. The key thing is that places are created where people feel safe and equipped to perform.

Understanding the guidelines (or where the rope is) for your workplace and having it made clear is vital. Find out more here.

Inclusion – is being asked to participate

To be included you need to be invited and have the tools and environment to be present. Being asked to take part shows the value that you are placing on the person you are asking. Asking them to take part because you see their strengths and know that they can add value is vital. Inclusion is not a display, it is about mutual benefit and creating places that allow the individual to walk the most difficult tight ropes.

Equality and neurodiversity – performing like no one is watching

Equality and Neurodiversity is about creating a level playing field where individuals get to use their skills and competencies in great ways. It is a place where creativity explodes, and innovation is paramount that can only be realised if you can bring your full neurodivergent self to work. It is about challenging and being okay with offering insight without fear and recognising the value that you can bring whilst encouraging the potential you see in others.

This is only possible if diversity, equity, and inclusion are present then equality and neurodiversity works!

Neurodiversity and neurodivergent thinking are hot topics. There are many ways to approach this area. I would encourage you to think deeply about how you can utilise the great potential these thinking skills can offer to your organisation. If you would like some help or just a conversation to explore this further, please get in contact.

Neurodiversity

What is Neurodiversity?

Have you ever helped someone and seen their eyes light up as they realise that they can solve their own problem and keep solving their problems? I call this, “Making Neurodiversity Heroes.”

In my mid-30s I faced a stark choice, whether to try and complete a qualification where I needed to write essays in a closed room with no help, or whether to bail out and do something different.

As I had been diagnosed with dyslexia I was able to get help through the government Access to Work scheme and as a result, I now have a diploma in marketing. This wasn’t a magic wand, but instead the start of the process of discovery in recognising I had real strengths I needed to amplify, along with several difficulties I needed to manage to be successful.

Neurotypical and neurodiverse

Neurodiversity is about how we all think differently. What I am specifically interested in are the people that don’t fit what we call, “neurotypical,” which is what the average person is like in terms of their thinking style. Neurodivergent on the other hand describes those people that think differently. This can be in small ways or sometimes large ways.

Where did the term neurodiversity come from?

The term neurodiversity has been used since the 1990s and was originally brought into use through a collaboration between sociologist Judy Singer and journalist Harvey Blume, regarding their work around autism. What the term means has expanded since then and it encompasses all types of thinking. What is important within this is recognising that some people are neurotypical and others are neurodivergent.

Why I became a neurodivergent coach

1 in 8 people are neurodivergent within the workplace and many experience challenges conducting their everyday work. These challenges are often related to efficiency and communication, along with being able to carry out tasks in the same way as neurotypical colleagues. This often means that neurodivergent individuals ignore their strengths and instead focus on their perceived difficulties, not bringing the full value they could to their workplace.

I’ve seen what happens to both individuals and organisations when people are helped and use different processes to complete their work. This is how heroes are made!

Amplify strengths and manage difficulties of neurodiversity

Neurodivergent individuals can be helped to amplify their strengths and manage perceived difficulties. For example, if they are dyslexic, a strength could be around communication skills and emotional intelligence. A difficulty could be around processing and short-term memory and to manage these difficulties new coping strategies could be put in place as well as assistive technology.

It’s important to remember that if you have met one neurodivergent individual you have met only one. Just as each neurotypical person is an individual, each neurodivergent person is an individual too, so they need to be treated as one.

When strategies and potential solutions to help amplify strengths and manage difficulties are being looked at, it is vital that the individual can make choices about the best way to implement solutions in their situation. I have seen with first-hand experience how neurodivergent individuals can become as efficient, if not more so than their neurotypical colleagues.

I started The Neurodivergent Coach to help organisations and neurodivergent individuals to flourish.

If you would like to discuss any of the strategies or ideas mentioned here, please get in touch.