The US Army is more Sobol than Google (Part 3)

The US Army is more diverse than Google.

My manager at Google once said, in response to an inquiry I had, “Go ask around, all Googlers will talk to you.”

Now, first you need to understand that when people use terms like “the Democrats” or “the Republicans,” I struggle. Am I supposed to believe that hundreds of millions of people can be split into two clean groups? And that every member of either group – as a unified political party – believes/speaks/feels exactly the same as others in that group? I mean you – a mature, functioning homo sapien – can’t really believe something insane like that, can you?

Well, when my manager (a Wharton MBA graduate) deadpan categorized all employees of Google as being able to project one, consistent, unified vision from a “Googler,” I thought I guess they’ll let anybody into Wharton these days. [Side note, if you are considering getting an MBA, please reach out. I’ll do my best to talk you out of it and in the process save you two years of your life and lots of money]. All joking aside, I thought it was crazy that an intelligent person could make a broad generalization about the advice and worldview of 50,000+ people, all from an extreme variety of cultures. Plus, I had already met plenty of Googlers who didn’t want to talk to me, the forlorn intern, as I was considered of little long-term ROI to them. (Some were very gracious with their time, usually from the Veteran Network.)

In the Army, there was a fantastic, often-used quote: “The Army has all kinds.” The short quote conveyed that there is no definition of “a Soldier.” Platoons were formed by Soldiers from all walks of life, with different belief systems and world experiences. Yes, there is hierarchy in the Army. Yes, there are formalities. But no one is expected to be the same. All Soldiers complete similar training, and all Soldiers carry out their roles in support of their brothers and sisters. Yet, I never met a superior who believed that hundreds of thousands of soldiers could be categorized as the same because of shared training and goal. Our mission was the same – “Support and defend the Constitution of the United States” – but the people charged with doing that were not “one size fits all” (unlike our wet weather gear, which certainly felt like one size fits all).

Despite corporate techtopia’s best attempts to assert otherwise, companies are more like thriving, diverse ecosystems than clean, rigid structures. A one-size fits all approach goes against nature and biology. At Sobol, we’re building the tools where an organization can create value from its unique web of culture, diversity, and talent.

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