ADHD is not just for start-ups

Silicon Valley is building neuro-diverse/ADHD business cultures

Normally in the long period it takes a company to grow, the ADHD founding entrepreneurs are side-lined or exit. Innovation and rule-breaking traits lose value, planning and process dominate. The founders leave to found new start-ups, where they can once again find greater self-determination, variety, novelty, creativity, excitement and flexibility. It seems though that in Silocon Valley new styles of managing and running companies are emerging, with much more affinity to the way neuro-diverse people think and operate.

I like this presentation about Netflix culture, originally developed by Netflix CEO and founder Reed Hastings.  It has been used internally at Netflix for years and released publicly in 2009 (the online presentation received over 5 million views). It really resonates with my recent thoughts on the differences ADHD brings to our complex relationship with work. Where are adults with ADHD most effective? What business contexts help and what hinder us? With the right approach and culture we can be very successful indeed but we are less able to thrive in traditional enterprises, that are highly bureaucratic, political and process bound.

With the explosion of the internet, new business cultures are emerging. Their growth is so rapid that they often retain their neuro-diverse founders. These powerful and wealthy entrepreneurs then use their authority to shape their businesses in new ways, with values and philosophies far more in sympathy with their neuro-diverse and ADHD work styles – check out the very different approaches to traditional business models and styles at Google, Facebook, Linked-In and in particular Elon Musk's agile approach at Tesla (and SpaceX., Neurolink and The Boring Company), seems ideally suited to the neuro-diverse. Well worht a read is Tesla's employee "Not a Handbook" here.

The ADHD way of working

Perhaps one day those of us with ADHD will no longer have to create our own business in order to find a company where we actually want to work and that recognises the value in our independence, innovation and lateral thinking.
ADHD Coach, Andrew Lewis

Andrew Lewis

Andrew Lewis is an ADHD Coach, writer and founder of SimplyWellbeing. He has over 10,000 hours and 15 years of experience in coaching hundreds of ADHD executives, business professionals and creatives, and previously running a large ADHD support group and an ADHD diagnostic clinic. His business expertise comes from a twenty years career in software, from programming, through marketing, sales and running a few start-ups. His ADHD insight is personal, with decades understanding his own ADHD experience and in bringing up his ADHD daughter. He has published his writing primarily via this website, with interactive ADHD courses in development.


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