First of all, let me thank you all for your comments on the Manifesto, for sharing your thoughts and showing both passion and strong convictions.
The Manifesto clearly resonated with a lot of you as either a call for change – or a call to talk some sense back into me!
It struck the eternal dilemma of conforming versus expressing your difference.
I am very aware that yes, indeed, we people need heuristics to make sense of the world, to feel somewhat in control of our environment and be accepted. Some would even argue that this pattern creation is rooted in our brain’s very operating mode.
I am aware of all of this…but I cannot help but wonder if we are not taking this to extremes nowadays by increasingly relying on stereotypes.
I cannot help but wonder what happened to the myth of the Renaissance man, a mix of scientist, philosopher, artist and businessman – the well-rounded individual open to diversity. How would he or she be perceived today?
I also question our current ability to foster a new Pascal or a new Da Vinci, multifaceted individuals who had such an important impact on these extraordinary beings were highly instrumental to the Enlightenment, in pursuit of a new and better world.
Let’s face it, if we do not allow for and/or catering to difference, if we systematically close the door to diversity and undermine an individual’s courage to be different, how can we adequately solve problems and innovate?
Let’s push the argument: if we are constraining innovative or creative impulses, how will we even be able to survive in the long term?
Organizations and society alike need a certain number of free spirits able to claim and embrace a different way, able to inspire and push innovation, able to create a path. We all can be that special one in our own way, gently revealing our uniqueness for the greater good.
A very talented lady once told me that innovating and conforming are a difficult balancing act that one needs to master if one want to have an impact. Think in terms of fashion to master the skills, she recommended. Wear a bright red but classically cut Chanel outfit or a super trendy Vivienne Westwood suit – in black. Mix a conformist element with an innovative one and you will create change in a non-threatening way.
To conclude with a more down to earth analogy – dedicated to you Londoners – imagine your life as the escalator at either say Bank or Green Park Tube stations (my favourites). Consider the few people walking on the left hand side of the escalator. They move faster and higher; they choose not to conform, because they are pursuing a different purpose. From time to time, choose to join them.