Be Divergent – Innovate with Courage

December 2015, by So-Young Kang

*From the movie “Divergent” – a 2014 science fiction action film by Neil Burger. In the film, a divergent is someone who doesn’t fit into one of the five factions based on human virtues because they fit into multiple groups. They are seen as a danger because they can think independently.

I’m divergent.

I’ve never quite fit in because I like many things. I enjoy solving problems. And I am passionate about developing people. And I am creative. And I believe business should do good in the world. And…the list goes on.

Are you divergent?

While we celebrate uniqueness and individuality ‘in principle,’ how often do we challenge ourselves to step outside of the norm? While we often talk about ‘stepping out of the box’ and being innovative, we often do it within the lines.

Do you find yourself saying, ‘No, that’s not me.’ Or ‘I’m not creative. I’m in accounting.’ Or ‘I have responsibilities. I can’t try something too new.

Here’s the good news.

You don’t have to fit into only one faction. In fact, embracing your multiple facets are great ingredients for innovation as creativity comes from bringing together diverse experiences and points of view.

If we are divergent as individuals, what does this mean for how we design our organizations? Why do we put people in factions, otherwise known as silos or divisions, and expect people to stay there? How can we encourage and celebrate ‘divergents’ within our organizations because this is where innovation comes from. This is where courageous leadership is born. It’s from ‘divergents’ who can think across multiple areas. It’s from those who have courage like ‘dauntless’ to push the boundaries. And from ‘abnegation’ who are self-less and have a desire to serve others. And from ‘erudite’ who use their rationale and intellect to solve problems. The point is…we need different strengths, talents, and perspectives to be innovative.

I encourage you to take time out to rediscover what makes you divergent and unlock your creative potential.

How can we give ourselves permission to innovate with courage and…be divergent?