I have written before about the fact that diverse work groups might not always be the most pleasurable to work with but often get the best results. The study I quoted was about people who were put together in a group and had to deal with it. But what about those situations, when you can actually choose who you want to work with. Naturally, you will gravitate to people who are like you, because you will feel safe and well understood in your work style: If you are a creative idea producer, how great to sit down with one or two of your kind and just go off on any tangent you see and think in ways that feel like no one ever thought this before…
If are a very well structured perfectionist who loves things nice and neat and has a real knack for handing things in even before the deadline, what a relief to finally work with someone who is the same, instead of that constant feeling of hearding chaotic cats!
It has been well studied, that networks in general mature towards homogeneity, having more and more similar people. But because that is what most networks do, it doesn’t mean that’s what the most creative and effective networks do. Sometimes, instead of asking: “Who is most like us, will be most comfortable to work with?” you could ask: “What kind of energy does our project need most?” And if you are a group of creatives flying high, you might need a much more focussed, results oriented person who always annoys you by structuring, insisting on deadlines and asking: “Who is going to do what and when so that we get this done?” On the other hand, your team might be great at getting stuff done, but in your heart of hearts you realize that this stuff could be a bit more inspired or innovative. Even though it makes you nervous and you guess that finishing before the deadline will be more of a challenge, you might be able to produce amazing stuff, if you invite a creative idea artist to join your team. Even though it would be so much more comfortable to just add another mirror image of you.
The key here is to be concious and self aware as a team (or individual) and not just follow the path of highest comfort. Ask yourself: “What are we strong at? Where are we lacking?” And go out looking for someone who loves doing what you hate.