Words in general and adjectives in particular have power. It is a power that comes in degrees or shadings. People and even societies can make value judgments on others just by the shadings of the words they use. Weird, strange, different and unique are really just different shadings of the same word but evoke completely connotations when applied to individuals or groups of people.
Great Groups are vivid Utopias. They are a picture of the way organizations ought to look -- sort of like a set of aspirations and a graphic illustration of what's possible. So how do we, in our mundane, quotidian organizations, create these things? I think there are a number of factors that we can look at.
Perhaps the key factor, and it's almost a banal thing to say, is finding a meaning in what you do. That is, how do you make people feel that what they're doing is somewhat equivalent to a search for the Holy Grail?
This is more than just having a vision. You can see the difference in the often-cited way in which Steve Jobs brought in John Sculley to take over Apple. At the time, Sculley was destined to be the head of Pepsico. The clincher came when Jobs asked him, "How many more years of your life do you want to spend making colored water when you can have an opportunity to come here and change the world?"
Source: An Interview with Warren Bennis: http://www.strategy-business.com/press/16635507/18276
How would you describe the leaders of great groups? He or she is a pragmatic dreamer, a person with an original but attainable vision. Ironically, the leader is able to realise his or her dream only if others are free to do exceptional work. Typically, the leader is the one who recruits the others, by making the vision so palpable and seductive that they see it, too, and eagerly sign up. Inevitably, the leader has to invent a leadership style that suits the group. The standard models, especially command and control, simply don't work. The heads of groups have to act decisively, but never arbitrarily. They have to make decisions without limiting the perceived autonomy of the other participants. Devising and maintaining an atmosphere in which others can put a dent in the universe is the leader's creative act.
Source: INTERVIEW WITH WARREN BENNIS: http://www.managementskills.co.uk/articles/ap98-bennis.htm
We're all afloat in a boundless sea, and the way we cope is by massing together in groups and pretending in unison that the situation is other than it is. We reinforce the illusion for each other. That's what a society really is, a little band of humanity huddled together against the specter of a pitch black sea. Everyone is treading water to keep their heads above the surface even though they have no reason to believe that the life they're preserving is better than the alternative they're avoiding. It's just that one is known and one is not. Fear of the unknown is what keeps everyone busily treading water. All fear is fear of the unknown. If someone in such a group of water-treaders betrays the group lie by speaking the truth of their situation, that person is called a heretic, and society reserves its most awful punishments for heretics. If someone decides to stop struggling and just sink or float away, every possible effort is made to stop him, not for the benefit of the individual, but for the benefit of the group. To deny at all costs the truth of the situation.
Competing against each other leaves little space for reciprocity and the growth of social capital. Running against another in a race may benefit our speed, but jointly organising the sports day produces cooperation and trust. There are many situations where cooperation and reciprocity are more effective than competition. Civic virtues come from building on what we have in common rather than by using our differences to create in-groups, outgroups and fear driven competition
...there's no real evidence that one can become expert in something as broad as "decision making" or "policy" or "strategy." Auto repair, piloting, skiing, perhaps even management: these are skills that yield to application, hard work, and native talent. But forecasting an uncertain future and deciding the best course of action in the face of that future are much less likely to do so. And much of what we've seen so far suggests that a large group of diverse individuals will come up with better and more robust forecasts and make more intelligent decisions than even the most skilled "decision maker."
Independence is important to intelligent decision making for two reasons. First, it keeps the mistakes that people make from becoming correlated. Errors in individual judgement won't wreck the group's collective judgement as long as those errors aren't systematically pointing in the same direction. One of the quickest ways to make people's judgements systematically biased is to make them dependent on each other for information. Second, independent individuals are more likely to have a new information rather than the same old data everyone is already familiar with. The smartest groups, then, are made up of people with diverse perspectives who are able to stay independent of each other. Independence doesn't imply rationality or impartiality though. You can be biased and irrational, but as long as you're independent, you won't make the group any dumber.