Diversity: What Makes Teams, FedEx and America Great!

After five years of blood, sweat and tears the FedEx Customer Reporting team finally launched the new FedEx Reporting Online, where customers can track and analyze their spend.

Developing the concept took just a few months, selling the concept took a few years and finally building the application took a few more years to get to a minimum viable replacement.

As I look back at the learning journey and my team, what stands out most to me is how a disparate group of individuals can transform into an extended family. Yes, we fight and fuss. (My work spouse even jokingly threatened to divorce me and sue for custody of the application after one recent disagreement.)  But we also laugh, share bags of Cheetos, swap family stories and get a lot done together.

In the beginning, we found each other’s styles frustrating as we stormed and formed. Over time we’ve learned how to embrace the things in others that drive us nuts as we’ve realized we need that diversity to succeed.

While homogeneity makes relationships easier, diversity makes us stronger. It would have been easier to be surrounded by people who always agree with my crazy ideas and approaches, but I need people who call BS on me and force me out of my comfort zone.

I remember one particularly strong exchange of views with my work wife, which while challenging at the time, afterwards resulted in a better result for both of us. I forced her to think more strategically while she made me think about the details required to achieve the strategy.

And as I read about and remember other companies I’ve worked at, I’ve come to realize one of Fedex’s core strengths is its inclusiveness. While FedEx still has a ways to go in diversifying its senior leadership ranks, the professional through director level highlights the opportunities available for talented people regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or ethnicity. While that diversity thins out at the top, you still have women and people of color all the way up to the EVP level.

And our project reflected FedEx’s embrace of diversity. For much of the time, I was one of the few guys on both the IT and marketing side. I was, and am, surrounded by strong brilliant women of various races and ethnicities who transformed my marketing BS into UX designs, user stories, project plans, architecture designs, Java, JavaScript, SQL, load plans and ultimately into a live production application.

The team represented the founding fathers’ maxim, “E pluribus unum” from many one; a salad bar of styles, origins, races, ages and ethnicities. And together we stormed and formed as we worked to figure out how to build a high performing team on a pressure-cooker project.

And trust me when I say the process has been messy, filled with lots of fighting and frustration, as it’s much easier to miscommunicate than it is to communicate.

But eventually we learned to embrace each other’s various quirks as being the flip sides of our strengths, and to tailor our approaches to meet our teammates’ needs.

And that to me is what makes America great!

Men and women, young and old, native born and immigrants of different backgrounds, creeds, races and ethnicities learning to leverage both our similarities and differences to build an even stronger, more perfect union.

So I just wanted to say thanks to the FedEx leadership for building such an inclusive culture. And to my team members, family and management who helped me learn, grow and truly appreciate the power that diversity brings.

Disclaimer: This is my personal and contains my own views, thoughts and opinions. It is not endorsed by  FedEx and is not an official communication of FedEx.

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