Steve Jobs

“My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.”

– Steve Jobs, founder of Apple

“It’s better to be a pirate than to join the navy.”

– Steve Jobs, founder of Apple

Mavericks Vs Teambuilders

As the legendary founder and CEO of Apple, in some ways the late Steve Jobs embodied a huge contradiction: someone who ruthlessly and single-mindedly pursued his own personal vision but who knew that to build a multi-billion dollar company he needed to nurture creativity in the teams around him.

He was arguably the ultimate ‘maverick’, an unorthodox or independent-minded person, who drew the best from the talent around him to produce products that have transformed the world.

On 23 June voters in the UK will go to the polls to decide whether we, as a country, prefer to stand alone outside the European Union or continue to try leading the international agenda from within. Opinion is sharply divided, so to mark the run-up to the referendum Indigo is taking a sideways look at the political and social debate by considering the advantages and disadvantages of aiming to be a maverick versus being part of strong team.

It’s an issue that Indigo encounters time and again in media relations and public affairs. Each of the business, charities and organisations that we work with know that, in all likelihood, there are rivals vying for the attention of the same news outlets or stakeholders.  The question they face is whether they should seek to compete on the same terms as those rivals on the basis that they are in good company, or to try to stand out from the crowd by doing things a bit differently.

There are of course advantages and disadvantages in following either path. While one organisation might be advised to tread ultra-carefully and build bridges with fellow stakeholders to achieve their aims, another might better adopt a more robustly independent strategy that goes against the grain of received wisdom in their sector.

Such a strategy might ruffle feathers in the short term but sometimes that’s what it takes to effect change quickly and decisively. Ultimately it’s a matter of horses for courses. Usually there’s a balance to be struck between distinctiveness on one hand and the support of networks on the other.

All of which brings us to the question that’s dominating public life in the UK this month: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

As voters we will all have a chance to cast our judgement on 23 June. Is it best to see the UK as a maverick, free to act without constraint, or should we be better at building bridges?  How easy is it to stay independent while working closely with others to meet your aims? When is it best to seek strength in numbers and when should you cut loose and go it alone?

So, in the hope that we can offer a more positive perspective than those that have dominated the Brexit contest, in the weeks ahead Indigo will be taking a sideways look at the political and social debate, asking our staff, clients and friends to share their reflections on the key questions that mirror those in the EU debate; questions that each and every voter in the country will have to weigh up in one form or another in the run-up to referendum day.

Peter Smyth is Head of Public Affairs at Indigo