We often talk about the importance of cultural fit, and how new employees or strategic partners need to have a good fit with our organizations.
However, whilst this is important, I also think it all depends on what it is we are looking to achieve.
For instance, lets assume I am a 52 year old, fat, unfit man, who decides that he wants to make some life changes, (not much of a stretch 🙂 ) and that I want be be fitter, slimmer and more energetic.
So I decide I to join the local gym.
Let me tell you, the last thing I need is a trainer who is a good cultural fit, because in that case I would be trained by another fat, unfit 50 year old man. And I can tell you that within 15 minutes we will have decided to give up, and we will be down the pub drinking beers, talking about football and that training will be the last thing on our minds.
No, in this case what I need is someone who is not a cultural fit with me, but someone who is a cultural fit with where I want to be. I need a personal trainer who is a hard body, muscles in his spit, who could run a marathon carrying me on his back without breaking a sweat.
I need someone who is going to drive me to make the changes I really need to make, not someone who is going to understand me, empathize with me and then agree with me that change is too hard.
This is also true when we are looking for strategic suppliers for our companies.
If we are looking to make a step change in our performance, change our culture, then aligning with someone who is culturally very much like us, who are a good cultural fit, isn’t going to give us the change we are looking for.
If we want to be more aggressive and ambitious in our target setting and achievement, then we need a partner who has that culture, so we can adapt to them.
Two fat men down the gym are not likely to change the world that they live in, their perfect cultural fit will probably mean that they maintain the current status quo.
So when we look at cultural fit we need to understand what our objectives are; if we are looking to change, then identifying people who are good cultural fit with our target, these are the ones we should look to employ or partner with.
If we want to remain exactly where we are, then we should find people or partners who are a perfect fit.