Forget ‘Fitting in’, Dare to be Different

i talk about “E.D.G.E. Workers” as a distinct kind of human. This person is different; edgy. They stand out from the crowd. People sometimes struggle to understand what they’re talking about, working on or proposing, or how they’re going about it. They consistently think and work at the boundaries of everyone else’s perceptual range or imagination.

EDGE Workers are Visionaries. Abstract, connective, not obviously-linear thinkers. Creatives. Experimental and yet organised at some level. Often their drivers link to a higher purpose or motivation, beyond the standard capital and value gain model of ‘why work?’.

EDGE Workers may be highly intelligent, highly attuned and/or highly responsive (sometimes phrased as highly sensitive). They typically don’t fit or subscribe to standard norms, and don’t believe in blindly following prescribed theory or models. They may be quiet and introverted. They may be outspoken and extraverted. They’re certainly not conservative.

We find them in workplaces and companies of all kinds; large and small. We find them in incubators and start-ups. We find them on LinkedIn and we find them at trade shows and expo’s. We find them in childcare settings, in schools, colleges and universities. In each case, we may spot them by their yawns, or by their difficulty holding stillness and quiet. They’re more likely to be excited about change, challenge and disruption – the bigger the scale; the more nascent the opportunity; the more interested they will be.

i was privileged to be gifted and supported in the opportunity to study for and gain a first class BA (Hons) in International Business Management at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the cold, bright North-East of England. It has a good management school and i spent my first undergraduate year recapping a 101-level series of A-Level Business Studies content. This covered basic training in Finance, Accounting, Human Resources, Marketing and other functionalist or mechanistic theory of how organisations work and how one’s supposed to manage and direct them. i spent the first year yawning a lot. Admittedly, high quality student entertainments and socials may also have had something to do with that.

One subject module stood out from the rest and prompted fewer yawns: Organisational Behaviour. The lecturer was my Tutor, the late Dr. Geoff Robson. Under his tutelage, I began to specialise, and focused on Advanced Organisation Theory and Information Systems Management. I learnt about paradigms (our lenses: our ways of seeing and being in the world) and radical humanism. Somewhat presciently, given today’s data privacy landscape, i wrote one of my final year dissertations on the Panopticon effect of technology. i may publish that here some day.

One Thing I’ve seen time and time again in my 30 year working life is that people sure love ‘folks who fit in’. Organisational Behaviour models explain why. But cultural ‘fit’ means that EDGE Workers often encounter harsh judgement or pointed criticism; particularly in more rigid, narrowly conformist cultures or hierarchies.

“You’re too fast.”

“You’re ahead of everyone.”

“You’re not doing it right.”

Sic. “you’re not approaching The Thing in the same way I would.”

Whilst Edge Workers may need gentle guidance to maintain clarity of focus, too much structure will dilute their invention- and innovation driven mind- and skill-set and dampen their enthusiasm. High-attuned and high-responsive Edge Workers may not always have the time, space or capacity to be receptive or respond well to directive or instructive feedback.

E.D.G.E. Workers need mentors, advocates, coaches, champions, allies and supporters who see and support their advanced, and beautifully different mind- and skill-set. If you read and relate to this, contact us to explore how Think Delta can help.

To the EDGE Workers: We see, hear, respect and understand you. We recognise, welcome, appreciate and celebrate you. We salute you.

the World needs more EDGE Workers.