You might not first understand how it is possible someone with ADD / ADHD is brilliant. On the outside they may look to be a mess. They might show up late for meetings, lose their keys, forget your name, not catch a detail or jump from one subject to the next without you following. Working with them can be the most frustrating experience at times.
Lucky for you, those with ADHD are also the most likely to come up with your next product line, provide a new solution to your customer service issue, think of a new angle on a legal case, introduce innovative laws that address multiple parties, or come up with an exciting PR campaign. The number of ideas people with ADHD have, and provide when their skills are appreciated and utilized, is simply staggering.
I liken it to a horizontal and vertical axis. A person with ADHD’s preferred state is horizontal, and a person without ADHD’s preferred state is vertical. I’ve attached a diagram to help explain this in more detail. Basically someone without ADHD is focused, disciplined, moving straight ahead in a single line with minimal peripheral vision, and someone with ADHD moves side to side easily with one detour leading to another to another, never moving very far forward.
The goal is to end up in the upper right hand spectrum of idea quality. You want both breadth and depth of ideas — as these are the most innovative, leading, winning ideas. If you have only depth you will get blindsided by your competition, and if you have only breadth it will be hard to really get anywhere. You need both types of people to achieve optimal results.
Don’t get me wrong, people can do both, but it takes a LOT of energy for those with ADHD to stay very focused and moving ahead in a straight line, just as it takes a lot of energy with those that don’t have ADHD to come up with a million ideas and solutions. Personally, I find it painful and exhausting to stay focused, but again I can do it.
So instead of focusing on what folks with ADHD are doing wrong, encourage them with what they can do right. It not only energizes them, it gives an organization a breadth of ideas and solutions otherwise never considered or imagined. In today’s market with change happening at the speed of light, it is especially important these idea makers are on board. Sure, a company may have to put up with some disorganization or tardiness or forgetfulness, but it’s much better than being the company that fails to come up with that next great idea, getting left in the dust by the competition.
Do you have an experience of ADD / ADHD in the workplace?