- Sunday Sanctuary
What Is Diverse Thinking?
We often think of diversity in terms of gender, race, or sexuality, and whilst having a diverse workplace is hugely important in the journey towards equality, there also exists a less measurable form of diversity that has a fascinating impact on a company's success. Diversity of thought, the idea that there are many ways of thinking about problems, can make the difference between a good company, and a great one, so we've explored exactly what it is, and why it could be the key to success.
What Is It?
At its core, diverse thinking is an exploration of bringing together different personality types. Categorising the way we think - whether we're creative, logical, interpersonal, strategic - often shapes who we interact with regularly, the careers we're drawn to, and ultimately the people we hire. We tend to relate to people most similar to us, and in the workplace this can lead to a dangerous cult of personality. Ensuring that there are a mix of people who bring different ways of thinking to the table, whether that's because of their background, upbringing, or interests, can generate innovation and help solve problems faster.
Diverse thinking isn't mutually exclusive from diversity; great ideas are formed when businesses from different countries and cultures cross paths (just Google the Kaizen way of working for evidence!). But diverse thinking goes beyond gender, ethnicity, or race as an outward indicator of our differences - it looks to the way we think, the way people are wired, and the means by which alternative approaches to life can help shape the world around us for the better.
The Pros and Cons
Diverse thinking in any company or team can come with both positives and negatives. On the surface, it's easy to think that the more diverse thinking the better. This can hold true to a point, and the benefits of diverse thinking include:
Tackling problems with optimal results
New ideas for innovation
Creating solutions cross-team with a number of diverse stakeholders
Enhancing team performance & encouraging teamwork
Giving employees a voice
Sense of purpose and feeling valued at work
It's clear that having a number of people working towards the same goal with a variety of approaches can only be a good thing, but in this sentence is the key to success; the same goal is necessary across all individuals.
Putting a group of complete randos together regardless of their opinion on a desired outcome, and hoping that diverse thinking will get you there can be disastrous. Whilst thinking about problems differently is a wonderful thing from one individual to the next, having certain core values misaligned can lead to chaos. Some of these include:
Differences in time management
Differences in prioritisation
Differences in desired outcome
Differences in overall mission
How To Get There
Defining cognitive diversity within any organisation can be subjective, so start by looking at the overall mission, and then consider the different ways of thinking that would help achieve it (which sectors of the business should be involved, which skills could contribute?). Once you've answered these questions, ask around for help selecting the best people to put together. They could be on a different team or someone you've never spoken to before - so discuss the skills of lesser-known colleagues with those that do know them. Soon enough, your network will be bigger, and your artillery of skills, personalities, and thinkers will be strong enough to tackle any problem. You can also check out our post on how to hire diverse thinkers.
There are plenty of ways to encourage diverse thinking in the workplace, if you have any suggestions or tips you'd like to share, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org