Commonality and Compatibility

This entry was cross-posted to The Network Buzz

I believe that organizations need to have personality, and that belonging to a group shouldn’t force a person to put their own personality aside … which is why I always enjoy seeing organizations pulling April Fool’s pranks – fake announcements, updated websites… the stoic inhuman front is dropped for a day, we worry less about stuffy professionalism, and we laugh together.  Of course, I participate wholeheartedly with myEWB.

This year, we launched EWB Match – with the tagline, Here at EWB, we recognize that finding finding a soulmate can be difficult in the busy life of a social change maker.  And so we are launching a new service – EWB Match – that makes it easy to find that special someone.

The crux of the feature was a compatibility rating that compared your profiles and predicted how compatible two EWBers were.  I will not divulge the secret algorithm (except to say, the numbers don’t lie…!), but essentially the rating compared how similar you were.  The more similar, the higher the rating.

But is that actually the case?
If you have a lot in common – are you automatically compatible?

There’s something to being in a relationship with someone who is very similar – who you understand and who understands you, implicitly and fully, in a way that only comes from common interests and worldviews and personalities.

But at the same time, there is the old saying that opposites attract.  And there is also validity to it; to that energy and excitement of someone who is different, who complements you rather than mirroring you.  Someone who can challenge and push you.

The same also applies to groups and teams.  Having a high level of commonality can lead to a very aligned, smooth, high-functioning team … but can also lead to group think.  You also need that spark, that challenge and healthy difference, to push the group.

So perhaps there is such a thing as too similar, and compatibility is measured by more than just commonality.  Or maybe that’s just something that an algorithm can’t tell us, which we all need to discover for ourselves.