Ninjas are the glue that holds our organizations together. Normally they are folks who have been around for a while, have the institutional knowledge and can point to where all the dead bodies are buried. Ninjas are loyal, often do jobs many us don’t like and can be counted on in the clutch. For the Ninja, it is about experience, tradition, loyalty and doing the right thing. Ninjas are the cornerstones of our workplaces and the conscience of our institutions. They are producers, find ways to get things done and make no excuses. They live by the mantra, “We can’t get to where we’re going unless we know where we have come from.”
The Jedis are colleagues who ask the tough questions oftentimes challenging the norms and practices of the organization. They explore possibilities and implications that test the outer limits of our workplace galaxies. For them, the question is not what are we doing but why are we doing it. They are the space cadets of our organizations who can lead us into the new age. They are the artists of the big picture and excel in problem solving. As optimists, they can lead us to a brighter future.
The Pirates are the risk takers in our organizations. They throw caution to the wind. They prize freedom and trust their impulses. Unconventional and playful, they keep us from not taking ourselves too seriously in the workplace. They are not talkers but doers. They don’t mind being associated with bad news because they tell it like it is. They chase out fear in our organizations which nurtures risk taking, innovation and creativity. They live by the mantra, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”
We need all kinds of people to make our workplaces more inclusive. For example, Ninjas can prevent Jedis and Pirates from keeping their heads in the clouds. Jedis and Pirates can help Ninjas keep their heads out of a rut. Ninjas can see today’s problems. Jedis and Pirates can see tomorrow’s trends. Ninjas can help us learn from the past. Jedis and Pirates can help us see the future. Jedis and Pirates can help Ninjas make the smart move. Ninjas can help Jedis and Pirates to not move too early.
Unfortunately, most of our workplaces are dominated by either Ninjas, Jedis or Pirates. We tend to hire people for cultural fit. Most of time that translates into surrounding ourselves with folks who look like us, think like us, and act like us.
What do you have in your workplace? Ninjas, Jedis or Pirates. Don’t wait until the next Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles, Star Wars or Pirates of the Caribbean movie releases to find out. By then, it may be too late.