Many people believe that the more diverse a team is in terms of ethnicity, age and gender the more creative and productive they are likely to be. Over a 12 year study by Alison Reynolds & David Lewis they found no such evidence.
What they did find was teams that have differences in perspective or processing styles were more productive. In other words, teams that had cognitive diversity do better.
They also cautioned that “we recruit in our own image.” We naturally gravitate to people who think and express themselves in a similar way and as a result we end up with like minded teams in our organisation. When this happens we have what psychologists call a functional bias and low cognitive diversity.
7 Ways To Build On This Insight:
1. If complex challenges are solved by diverse thinking, we all need to let others around us know it’s ok to be themselves at work.
2. Become aware of your own cognitive preference and ask to hear from people who think completely differently to you.
3. Recognise when and where you might be shutting down others.
4. When you face a new, uncertain, complex situation and everyone agrees on what to do, find someone who disagrees and cherish them.
5. Invite everyone to Ask Pam – what could possibly go wrong, what assumptions are we making, how do we minimise the risk?
6. Find ways to accommodate others without changing your pace. If you move quickly how can you give others time to prepare? if you prefer rigidity, how can you allow others to be more flexible?
7. Remember your stance. Now explore the opposite.
Please note: This post was specifically written for people attending week one of our nine week resilience programme where we showed you just how cognitively diverse your team is. Practice the skills and tools we shared to leverage that diversity.