Network Weaving

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Building on Diversity

Congratulations Mr. Community Organizer!

You beat them with the strategy they mocked.

Recently, I read an excellent book about Abe Lincoln -- Team of Rivals. In order to deal with a divided nation, Lincoln chose his cabinet from the best minds available. He ended up with a cabinet composed of mostly his rivals to the presidency. He chose these men for their abilities and experience. Lincoln knew the problems he faced were too much for one person. He knew he needed a team of experts -- all more capable than him in their specialities.

Lincoln was a master weaver in not only creating his team, but also managing them. A diverse team is difficult to manage, but usually produces better results than a team of like-thinkers. The key to Lincoln's diverse team was different thinking and different expertise and different styles. Yet, by appearance they were very similar -- all old white men. Same packaging, but different attributes.

Today's corporate world is full of apparently diverse individuals -- men, women, whites, blacks, asians, latinos, christians, jews, muslims, gay and straight. Yet, most corporations reward similar thinking -- which does not bring the rewards that diversity promises. We have organizations full of people that look different, but think the same. Everyone should read Team of Rivals to see how to mix, match and manage different skills, styles and abilities for maximum effectiveness.

We focus on Barack Obama's ethnicity -- but that is not why he won. It is his message, his vision, his leadership. 150 years ago, a tall skinny guy from Illinois focused on connecting a severely divided nation. Now, another tall skinny guy from Illinois faces a differently divided nation and needs the best team possible to move this country forward. I was glad to hear that Team of Rivals is one of Obama's favorite books. He will need to apply it's lessons learned to have an effective presidency in these tough times.


  • Great post, Valdis! I defnitely agree that this is a great book. Doris Kearns Goodwin has been on some of the political analysis shows on TV (MSNBC, I think) and talked about this connection as well, and how important it is for Obama to take this approach.

    By Blogger Patti, at 11/05/2008 11:21 AM  

  • I'm rooting for him to place Ron Paul in for Secretary of Treasury. It would certainly shake things up in most useful ways and he's one of the only politicians who seems to understand the problems with the money-making monopoly that we've granted to private bankers.

    I think the likelihood of this happening is quite low, but it would be an impressive move.

    By Blogger Artemystic, at 11/05/2008 11:39 AM  

  • Good perspective on the strength of true diversity... the diversity of the mind. Valdi, thanks for sharing... I will plan on picking up the book, especially given its relevance to our time and place!

    By Blogger Maris, at 11/12/2008 8:50 PM  

  • Valdi, thanks for sharing! A great reminder of the strength in the diversity of the mind. I have heard that Obama will mix seasoned veterans with many new comers. Will plan to read the book given its relevance in our time and place.

    By Blogger Maris, at 11/12/2008 8:55 PM  

  • "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer." Sun-tzu.

    The modern twist, they aren't really enemies, they're sources of useful ideas orthogonal to your habitual modes of thinkikng

    By Blogger zentinal, at 11/17/2008 10:18 AM  

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