In his book The Righteous Mind the psychologist Jonathan Haidt goes to a restaurant called The True Taste. It’s empty, the interior is entirely white, and each place setting has five small spoons. He sits at the table and picks up the menu. It’s divided into sections labelled “Sugars”, “Honeys”, “Tree Saps”, and “Artificials”.
He calls the waiter over to explain. The waiter is also the owner and sole employee of the restaurant, and he says it’s the first of its kind in the world, a tasting bar where one is able to taste sweeteners from 32 different countries.
The waiter goes on to say he is a biologist who specialises in human taste and lists the five kinds of taste receptor found on the human tongue: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and savoury. His research has led him to believe that the sweet receptor delivers the strongest surge of dopamine in the brain.
He has therefore concluded it’s most efficient, in terms of pleasure per calorie, to consume sweeteners, and thus he opened a restaurant with the singular focus of stimulating this taste receptor. At this point Haidt asks how the business is going. “Terrible,” the waiter replies.
You may have figured out by now that this is not a true story! But Haidt uses it to show how a true idea is, on its own, inferior to one that’s integrated. Although in this case he is making a case for the importance of diversity in political thought, it is something that Hive believes is true in business too.
Hive has created a team with diverse training, experience and interests to form unique capabilities. This theme came up when we celebrated Hive’s third birthday in June with lunch at the office and a trip to a good local venue where, together, we reviewed the year. We then split into two groups to present research projects on innovation and culture.
I know I know, these are two words that people at business conferences use to peacock to one another about how on-trend they are. Actually there really is something in them if you are interested in creating a better team. The presentations started a conversation that reaffirmed our different way of working. Other consultancy businesses can be biased towards their own area of specialism, but Hive team members are encouraged to broaden their horizons. Here you are expected to work according to the T-shaped model: have a broad ability to work outside your core area and a deep knowledge of your chosen field.
This rarely happens in small firms. But it’s not just our internal culture, it’s how we work with our clients too. We engage them as partners to share their thoughts and we challenge them to see the world differently. It’s good that dentists can respect the value of our deep knowledge in, say, accountancy, but it’s critical that they benefit from diversity of thought too. If we just thought about accountancy we would have massive blind spots, and we would pass these on to you. If you only thought about clinical excellence, your business might not be commercially viable.
So although we see finance and commerciality as the core of good business, it’s always good to seek the complete view. We aim to improve your peripheral vision of your business because it always improves the quality of your decision making. Sometimes people outside your field can see things that you can’t, and this is how you evolve your thinking. But you have to trust the process, which is hard. You have to trust that value resides in the process itself, and you have to be OK with uncertainty.
We don’t know exactly what we’ll do for you when we start working with you, but we know it will be remarkable because of the way we work, and what we will ask of you. I can’t imagine where we’ll be in another three years. Thanks for all your support.
If you’re a dentist and you’d like more information how to develop your team starting with a Diagnostic Day, get in touch 01872 300232 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.