Gapingvoid - Dont be normal


  • “’Don’t be normal.’ Who wants a ‘normal’ job, anyway? Who wants a ‘normal’ employer, anyway? Who wants a “normal” life, anyway? Exactly.” – Hugh MacLeod

The weirdness appeal is more deeply dissected in Seth Godin’s post Variance or deviance?

  • “If you see things that don’t meet the norm as ‘deviant’, then you are approaching the world with a mindset of mass, of conformity, of obedience. You are assuming that you can be most effective and efficient when the market lines up in a straight line, when one size does fit all, because one size is cheaper to make and stock and distribute. On the other hand, if you accept differences as merely variations, each acceptable, then you realize that there are many markets, many choices, many solutions.”

My friend Dr. Bret Simmons describes “deviance” even more glowingly in his post “Excellence is a form of deviance”. Pfeffer and Sutton (2006) identify the talents of wisdom in four types of folks that help sustain organizational learning…

  • Noisy complainers: Repair problems right away and then let every relevant person know that the system failed
  • Noisy troublemakers: Always point out others’ mistakes, but do so to help them and the system learn, not to point fingers. They are purposeful and not egocentric.
  • Mindful error-makers: Tell managers about their own mistakes, so that others can avoid making them too. When others spot their errors, they communicate learning – not making the best impression – is their goal.
  • Disruptive questioners: Won’t leave well enough alone. They constantly ask why things are done the way they are done. Is there a better way of doing things?

He cites Robert Quinn’s “Deep Change”…

  • Excellence is a form of deviance. If you perform beyond the norms, you will disrupt all the existing control systems. Those systems will then alter and begin to work to routinize your efforts. That is, the systems will adjust and try to make you normal. The way to achieve and maintain excellence is to deviate from the norms. You become excellent because you are doing things normal people do not want to do. You become excellent by choosing a path that is risky and painful, a path that is not appealing to others.”