I was looking at two pictures of diamond and graphite. Both consist of only carbon atoms. Why do the two materials then differ so much in their properties?
The bigger question is how does this relate to leading teams and managing organizations?
The crystal structure of diamond and graphite vary because of the difference in the arrangement of their carbon atoms.
It is a three-dimensional arrangement of carbons in diamond giving it its rigid structure. This makes diamonds very hard to scratch but also it is somewhat brittle.
The arrangement of carbon atoms in graphite is a planar two-dimensional one. This permits graphite to conduct electricity and heat as well as absorb light.
I want to conclude from the above three important lessons
- Arrangement makes huge differences. To have a flat organization is not like having a hierarchical one. How we even structure our thoughts makes big differences of the resulting “thought material”.
- Humans are not similar like carbon in atoms making the entire structure of both diamond and graphite.
- If diamond and graphite could have both structures would their performance enhance to higher levels?
Humans Are Not Similar
Humans are not similar. We are unlike the similar carbon atoms in graphite and diamond. We have polarity. Examples are many. Few of them are
- Is it better to be a leader or a manager?
- Is it better to manage teams or allow them to be self-organizing?
- Should we focus on growth or efficiency?
- Should we pay attention to short-term goals or long-term goals?
- Should we change our strategy or keep it?
- Should we have fixed working hours or allow flexibility?
The minute we tend to focus on one end of the rod we lose. For example, if we focus on growth without paying attention to cost we may end up in many problems such as negative cash flow.
If we focus on serving what we do well we run the risk of new technologies emerging and wiping out our business.
We become rigid like a diamond is. We think that no competitor shall be able to scratch us. We fail to realize that we become increasingly more brittle and collapse from within.
In our competitive world being rigid like a diamond is adopting the wrong arrangement that leads to a brittle thinking structure.
If we take the other end of the rod we end up with a structure that is graphite-like. We become slippery and conducive to ideas but then we remain weak.
Graphite and diamond do not have the luxury of alternating their structures. Humans do.
By changing our thinking to alternate as needed between logical thinking and creative thinking we get the better of the two.
Humans have the luxury that they miss out on because of their rigid thinking. It is not always good to be a diamond in our thinking.