Know Thyself: What It's Like To Be An Outlier

Image containing a graph of cultural preferences



And here’s how that data stack up with one of the teams I’m on. >






< Here’s my Personality, my Proficiency, and my Preferences as data.


Image showing where one person fits in comparison to the rest of the team culture graph
Highlight of one part of the “culture” spectrum

^ Let's only focus on the cultural preferences part of this dashboard, and more specifically, the spectrum of “organizational control.” This is a dramatically-simplified visual representation of the Cloverleaf dashboard.

Organizational control answers the question, “How do I control outcomes?”

People with Loose Control improvise by embracing unpredictability and innovation. People with Strict Control mitigate risk by embracing efficiency and planning.

Image highlighting where one person stand out on the culture spectrum graph
Image highlighting where one person stand out on the culture spectrum graph


< This is what a team I’m on, looks like. I’m not an outlier in this team, and that’s good. It’s good for me, and it’s good for the team because this team doesn’t need me to be an outlier. As a writer with Loose Control, I’m prone to write when the mood strikes. And that works for this team and for me.



< But this is a different team. This team benefits from an outlier because of the kind of work they do. This person right here--this dangerous, beautiful, and complicated person--is an outlier, and it’s good for the shape of this team. She is also a writer, but she writes based on a schedule and a regimen.


If I were to move onto that team, as a writer, my resume would match up. But because of this one preference, I would be a negative outlier and bad for the shape of this team.

A person who would not normally “fit in” could become the perfect solution to a problem. Likewise, the wrong person in the wrong position at the wrong time means something is going very wrong.

Outliers are either good, or they are bad. It’s impossible to be an outlier with a neutral effect.

The stakes are too high to guess and hope to get lucky. It’s critical to know yourself, and to know others, for the sake of everyone around you.


For more blog posts like this, check out Visualizing the Shape of Teams and What is A Positive Outlier.

Levi Bethune