Dreamers, Builders and Shippers


The conversation about cultural diversity of workforces continues to be elevated.  High profile technology companies in Silicon Valley have been the target of most recent media attention, but the challenges and benefits of diversity apply equally across the industry spectrum.

Typically, the dialogue is focused on gender, ethnic and, to a lesser degree, age diversity.  Yet there is another layer of diversity that deserves attention:  what I’ll call diversity of “cognitive style”.  Put simply, there are 3 types of people in the workplace:  Dreamers, Builders and Shippers (a term I heard in this recent podcast).

Imagine a company filled with only Dreamers:  there would be an abundance of ideas, beautiful branding, but very little execution would happen, and products would lack substance.  Conversely, if populated with only Builders, a company’s products would be functionally robust, but lack imagination, great user experience, and would most likely never be commercialized.  Or, an organization consisting of only Shippers would have dozens, or perhaps hundreds of products, but an absence of vision & attention to product detail.

Organizations that recognize how these styles complement one another, will intentionally build a team where each is represented.  And in the highest-functioning teams, each person learns to acknowledge, appreciate and draw upon the natural capabilities offered by those unlike themselves.   Creating an environment where Dreamers, Builders and Shippers exist and thrive should be on the agenda for all companies that hope to create a deeper level of diversity.  It builds perspective, expands capability and is just good business.