Diversity for innovation and growth

Innovation and growth depend on harnessing the strength of a diverse workforce

Research has shown diversity of thinking, perspective and intellectual style combines to create a diversity of approaches to problem-solving. However, this attitude needs to be consistently encouraged, ie listen harder and use structured problem solving.

- listen harder

In addition to encouraging new perspectives, diversity makes others listen harder, ie

"...Diversity is a curiosity trigger and it causes someone to listen harder, ask more questions and think more deeply, and improves the group dynamic in terms of breadth of views. There is a lot less listening in...... homogenous groups because 'I know what you are going to say'..."

Juliet Burke (Deloitte) as quoted by Joanna Gray 2016e

"...gender diversity, when ratios are at least 60:40 (women to men), has importance...... because it also creates a different dynamic of conversation. People feel more psychologically safe when they are in this group. They speak out and there is more turn taking, so it is not dominated by voting blocks..."

Juliet Burke (Deloitte) as quoted by Joanna Gray 2016e

Research (Joanna Gray 2016e) has shown that people approach problem-solving in 1 of 6 ways by focusing on: process, risk, outcomes, options, people or evidence. Generally people prefer 1or 2 ways and favour them. Also, as one goes further up the organisational ladder, there is more focus on outcomes and options, and less on the others. This helps explain why there is less innovation at higher levels of an organisation

- structured problem-solving

People who think about a problem in only 1 or 2 ways have a 30% error rate.

Problem-solving should be done in a more disciplined way, ie

"...discussion is seen through several lenses on outcomes, then options, then evidence - and everybody is asked to solve the problem dimensions (often reflecting their own strengths) , as well as eliciting the minority views - then people feel included and the results are more innovative..."

Juliet Burke (Deloitte) as quoted by Joanna Gray 2016e

This way results in a greater percentage of breakthrough ideas and innovations; it ensures that minority points of view are heard and bias can be counterbalanced

Using random brainstorming is, by comparison, wasteful, unproductive and not effective.

 

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