Blame it on the mashed potatoes. In 2009, Martha Stewart invited Snoop Dogg to appear on her syndicated talk show Martha and the two whipped up mashed potatoes and witty conversation. Their comedic timing and easy rapport were an instant hit, kicking off an unexpected friendship between the lifestyle mogul and West Coast rapper.
Five years later, when VH1 producer Sally Ann Salsano was on the hunt for a unique half-hour cooking show that integrated pop culture, she immediately thought of the unlikely duo. Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party was born. So what makes the partnership work, despite differing backgrounds and ages? Stewart and Snoop both say it wasn’t that hard to find common ground, citing a “mutual love of food, music and trying new things.”
Trading Cultural Fit for Cultural Add
The magic behind an unexpected pairing – like Martha and Snoop – doesn’t have to be limited to the realm of celebrity cooking shows. Research consistently finds that diverse teams outperform homogenous groups. These teams are more innovative and productive, exhibiting better decision-making and enhanced organizational performance. Diversity – including unexpected professional pairings – makes us all smarter.
In a world where some companies consider cultural fit to be just as critical as a candidate’s skills or experience, I advise a different approach. Let’s trade culture fit for cultural add. Here’s how:
Network in different groups.
Do you always attend the same industry events and conferences? It’s time shake things up. Think about this change as balancing your “bonding capital” with your “bridging capital.” “Bonding capital” refers to relationships based on common bonds, like the connections we build with professional peers at industry conferences. “Bridging capital” refers to relationships built across differences, like other industries or professional skill sets. Bridging capital builds a wider, more diverse network, setting us up to find the Snoop for our Martha.
2. Expand candidate search criteria.
When it comes to your next candidate search, don’t impose arbitrary limits, such as a specific geographic market or industry. Instead, consider the type of hire you want to bring on board. Will they help the team to navigate a rocky restructuring period successfully? Will the push the team to think bigger, developing innovative processes or products? A narrow focus on credentials and skills is not a full assessment of a prospective hire’s potential as a transformative leader.
3. Bring awareness to the impact of unconscious biases on the hiring process.
Over the past decade, “cultural fit” has gained a reputation as a blanket term that interviewers can use to reject a candidate who doesn’t “feel right” to the hiring manager. Our unconscious bias predisposes us to hire individuals who are like us, creating a homogenous culture. Companies like Facebook and Pandora have restructured their interview process to minimize the impact of unconscious bias. Doing so removes the opportunity to hide behind “cultural fit” as a reason to reject a qualified candidate. Now, these companies focus on candidates who have the same values, sense of purpose and guiding principles but have different backgrounds, viewpoints and skill sets.
Our focus on cultural fit can lead to carbon copy employees who create an echo chamber. When we intentionally build a group of people with shared values but different ideas and approaches, it’s easier for innovation to flourish. As Martha and Snoop prove, looking for a partner outside your traditional circle pays off.
Do you consider “cultural add” as part of your recruitment process?