Inclusion: Bad for Diamonds; Oxygen for Innovation

In a response to a tweet from @MartijnLinssen, I noted that inclusions are bad for diamonds, but good for innovation and business in general. I think Martijn posted that particular tweet in response to a question I had posted about the use of the terms “consultant” and “expert”. I think too much time is spent on figuring out ways to exclude people from anything other than the roles we’ve pigeon-holed them in. This seems to be the default mode of Human Resource departments, i.e. find a job title and wrap it around a “belly button”. Once you’ve accomplished that task, you have an employee ready to fit into the pre-ordained mold you’ve created; the cog in your machine, if you will.

This seems to miss the reality that all of us are far more complex than a title can contain expression for. In my over twenty years at Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne I have seldom performed tasks that were directly in alignment with the title I held. Part of the reason for this is I was always looking for new and innovative ways of getting things done and, to their credit, my management never (or seldom) discouraged me from doing so. I don’t think I’m all that unique. I happen to believe everybody has hidden skills and talents an organization can – and should – tap in to. We should encourage, no, assist everyone to reach their fullest potential. We should create an environment where everyone can contribute to the growth and sustainability of their organization, whether their contribution is small or large. To do anything else is more than foolish. It’s wasteful and destructive. Our people are, indeed, our most valuable asset – especially in a knowledge-based economy. An asset we can ill afford to ignore.

About Rick Ladd

I retired nearly 13 years ago, though I've continued to work during most of the time since then. I'm hoping to return to work on the RS-25 rocket engine program (formerly the SSME) which will power our return to the moon. Mostly I'm just cruising, making the most of what time I have remaining. Although my time is nearly up, I still care deeply about the kind of world I'll be leaving to those who follow me and, to that end, I am devoted to seeing the forces of repression and authoritarianism are at least held at bay, if not crushed out of existence. I write about things that interest me and, as an eclectic soul, my interests run the gamut from science to spirituality, governance to economics, art and engineering. I'm hopeful one day my children will read what I've left behind. View all posts by Rick Ladd

2 responses to “Inclusion: Bad for Diamonds; Oxygen for Innovation

  • Rick Ladd

    Nick – I believe you are describing the attributes many would give to entrepreneurs. Regardless, misfits as you use it is an apt word; it describes me (and most people I know – not all – but most) reasonably well. Most of us are “mis-fit” for any particular, defined job. Almost all of us have many different areas of expertise. No, we are not PhDs – not that kind of an “expert” – but people with varying types and degrees of experience and, especially, differing points of view informed by that experience. I’m of the opinion the more we find ways to tap into the collective expertise that exists in an organization, the better chance we’ll have at achieving its (and, hopefully, our) goals.


  • Nick


    In my very humble opinion experts are needed, sparingly, and primarily in R&D applications. When we are actually trying to accomplish something in the near term, I have found that a group of misfits, given the ability to build/test/make mistakes will succeed in ways that will outperform expert opinions.

    Misfits are those of us who don’t fit into any contrived job description, but rather dabble in all the things that are necessary to get some job done. We abhor mundane, repetitive tasks, and wish to work on things that make us feel useful.

    At least that’s this non-experts crack at it…


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