Flow versus Friction: Find the cultural (mis)fits

Flow versus Friction: Find the cultural (mis)fits

“Let’s hire someone who’s a good cultural fit.”

This is often what you’ll learn hear from a boss or a co-worker. We all want to hire people who fit seamlessly into our company culture. People who share similar ways of thinking, working and making. People who you genuinely like and want to have pint with.

Bringing on people who flow straight into the culture of the company is especially important when you work in a creative business. Producing great creative work requires trust, empathy and vulnerability.

However, the most interesting creative things often come from people who create friction, people who don’t quite fit in, people who challenge the way everyone else thinks.

The danger of ‘cultural fit’ is homogeneity.

How can we expect to make original things if everyone thinks exactly the same? Taking it even further, how can we expect to create big social changes without debate, argument, dissent?

Ije Nwokorie, our CEO at Wolff Olins, encourages us to “connect with strangers and enemies, not just friends and family.”

I make a proactive effort to connect with people who scare me, who drive me a bit mad. I have a mentor at Wolff Olins who does intimidate me a bit and is constantly pushing me to think about the commercial side of Kitchen, the school I’m building inside our company. How we will we scale up and make money fast?

On other side of things, I have a friend in Berlin with a law and critical theory background who’s constantly questioning my relentless optimism and belief in the potential for business to make the world a better place. He challenges me, he provokes me. He forces me to think critically about how Kitchen is truly helping people make better businesses.

People like my mentor and friend in Berlin create just the right amount of friction.

The next time you’re looking for someone new, perhaps go against your gut, find a cultural (mis)fit, take a chance with someone who doesn’t immediately fit in. They’ll probably take you to a more interesting and impactful place.

Melissa Andrada (@themelissard) heads up Kitchen from Wolff Olins, a school for ambitious leaders who want to build businesses that change the world


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