James Dyson: How To Be Different

Be an anarchist
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The Independent Online

Johnny Rotten rattled the Establishment by singing about anarchy in the UK. Their assumption was that anarchy was a threat to order and the quiet life. But even in business terms, he was right, and they were wrong. What companies need is more anarchy and less conformity. Anarchy is the lifeblood of companies that really want to be creative and innovative.

In a conventional corporate environment, your route to the top used to be to do what you were supposed to do and what your predecessor did - rather than to think independently. You were praised for making "safe" decisions. That way you could not be blamed. You would still be around to fill the next dead man's shoes.

"Nobody gets fired for buying from IBM" was the received wisdom, even years after its rivals had amply demonstrated that there was another way.

This is where anarchy comes in - not as a destructive force but a creative one. It's about unleashing new ideas and new thinking.

I have a policy of hiring young people. I value the experience and wisdom of greyhairs. But I know that young people bring the equally important advantage of travelling light - in the sense that they carry no baggage of experience which can inhibit one's willingness to challenge convention.

They have neither the scar tissue of past mistakes nor the arrogance of past triumphs. They have not been stifled by a culture that rewards conformity and feels threatened by independence. They have not been robbed of their innate propensity to take risks. I encourage people to make mistakes, in the sense that I don't expect them to get things right first time. It is better to show interest and creativity from day one than let yourself be trapped under the dead hand of corporatism. So I encourage new joiners to make decisions and I put them in the thick of it right from the start.

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