We Are All Snowflakes
I’ve always know that I was different. In fact I’ve never wanted to be the same as anyone else. You see, being different makes me stand out from the crowd and it gives me a distinct advantage in life.
As I mature in life I understand and I value the fact that my skill set is unique. There is not another Malcolm Ingram out there, and I should know because I have looked! As I have left jobs in the past I have typically been asked to find another ‘Malcolm’, someone who can do what I do with the ultimate aim of replacing me on a ‘like for like’ basis. I can tell you that it never works out.
So, after a number of years looking for another me I have decided that I am a snowflake, I am unique, and there is just one of me.
It makes sense when you think about it too. I have identical twin boys that are now just over 3 years old. They are 99.9999996172% identical according to the DNA test when they were born and I can tell you now that they are totally NOT identical in anyway what so ever! Yes they are genetically identical and yes they have shared 99.9% of the same life and social experience so far in their 3 years. However, their brains have built their own unique likes, dislikes, learnt at different rates and favoured different topics. They already have quite different strengths and weakness in a range subjects. They too are snowflakes!
So what does this mean for you?
Well, you too are a snowflake! You are different from the person sat at the desk in the cubical next to you. Your brain has developed its own likes and dislikes just as we all have. You have strengths and weaknesses that are different to mine or your colleagues and I know that that is a good thing. Your skill level and experience in life is not the same as anyone else and when considered as a ‘package’ you are quite unique. This is a significant advantage for you as well as for me. You see delivering large scale IT projects and programs of work needs lots of different people with different levels of skill and expertise. We all add value in different ways and when we work together we can achieve the seemingly impossible. So what should you do about it?
- Acknowledge that you have skills, experiences, strengths and weaknesses that when combined are unique to you as an individual. List them if you must but at the very least just think about them and then acknowledge them.
- Promote yourself and focus on those things that you are good at. As a PM I am not going to instantly know everyone’s strengths, I need you to help me understand what it is that you are great at. So find your voice and share the love.
- Never stop learning. This is a big thing for me. Those of you out there that have ‘god like syndrome’ should listen up. No one could ever possibly know everything or be right all of the time. You see the universe is just too great an expanse and we humans are just so small that it’s presently impossible to know everything. On top of that, things change. Old things decay, new things emerge and what you once knew as fact has now become fiction. So learn new stuff, stay relevant and be prepared to adjust your way of thinking – this will continue to ensure that you stay a snowflake!
What does this mean for you as an employer or a manager?
We unconsciously put people in a box. I know all too well what it’s like as an employee and what it is like to be classified and put in a box. I have always been hired into a box and I have always struggled to jump over to a new box! In fact I do it myself on a regular basis and I have to consciously make an effort to think differently at times, to break the mental thinking pattern that has been imposed upon me for so many years.
You see when we hire we are looking for something in particular. We hire on the basis of comparison or a clearly defined job description. As you get older and as you enter into more senior positions you begin to realise that a structured JD is not really that useful at all. What you need is diversity and flexibility to adapt to changing needs and circumstances. So what does this mean for you as a boss?
- Stop labelling people and putting them in boxes. Instead be more flexible when hiring and find the hidden gems inside the people that you are interviewing. Look for their hidden talents, look for their passion, vison, imagination, life experiences and skills.
- Hire with the intent of an investment. One of my best bosses of all time told me that he was not hiring me for what I was but for what I would become! He looked at me and he saw my future and he was willing to invest in his vison of me. He mentored me, trained me and later gained significant value from me afterwards. I felt great working for this guy and I felt appreciated.
- Hire for a more flexible workforce, hire agility, hire expertise, hire strengths, hire imagination, hire emotion and hire for a team player. Hire a snowflake!
The last word on snowflakes
It’s human nature to want to be part of the crowd. If you believe the story of the science of evolution it goes back to our more animalistic instincts of survival. Unfortunately this means that every snowflake can, if they so choose, become a Lemming. All I will say is this. The world needs more celebrated snowflakes not more lemmings. I for one will be more conscious of the snowflakes in my life and work. I will be looking to hire more snowflakes and not more lemmings!
If you have enjoyed this post then you may be interested in my other posts within the Project Management series.
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About the Author
By day I’m a Programme Manager that is passionate about delivering successful large scale business systems.
By night I’m passionate about a number of special interests including but not limited to cloud technologies, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, space exploration, robotics, drones, VR & AR, alternative power technologies, research & development and philosophy!
As I always say, these are all my own views and opinions and as such they are not intended to represent or reflect the views of others or my employers. All copyrights and trademarks are acknowledged.