Manager Minute – Why diverse and inclusive teams are the engines of innovation

In today’s unpredictable business environment, organizations that harness the differences of their people are the ones that will excel. A link to the full article from Great Place to Work is found at the end of this Daily News Post.

Regardless of industry, field, or domain, the organizations that seek diverse viewpoints—across ethnicity, gender, age, educational background, etc.—experience higher rates of innovation.

Elevating the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace is just half of the equation for unleashing your organization’s innovative potential. A deeper, more structural change is needed. Many leaders associate innovation with experts, technologists and R&D professionals whose job it is to grow the company.

1. Diverse and inclusive teams create more unlikely ideas

Ideas aren’t created out of thin air. They’re created by people—by teams of people. And the more diverse these teams are along many dimensions—culture, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age, experience level, educational background, expertise, etc.—the more likely they are to draw inspiration from seemingly unrelated places. These idea combinations lead to more unlikely—and more innovative—ideas.

2. Diverse teams are better at making decisions

When it comes to deciding which ideas to test and to put more resources behind, diverse and inclusive teams are far better than homogenous ones.

Data collected by Cloverpop on its decision management platform—and used by hundreds of companies—found that the more diverse the team (by gender, geography and age) the better the decision that team made. James Surowiecki’s book The Wisdom of Crowds also supports this idea.

When teams increase their level of difference, they increase their chances of selecting an idea that ends up being game-changing. Why is that? Because diversity of thought stretches a team in ways that can be uncomfortable, but effective.

It raises their ambition level on what they believe they can accomplish and redefines the parameters that they otherwise operate within when they’re working in homogenous teams.

A diverse team of decision-makers can also prevent bad decisions from being made—ones that may alienate customers, harm the brand or impede growth—simply by including people who think about the landscape differently.

Now, even though diverse and inclusive teams make better decisions, a crucial last step still remains: actually bringing these ideas to life.

3. Diverse teams are better at making innovative ideas happen

Diverse teams have far more pathways to execute on an idea, which enables them to iterate on them faster and more cost-effectively. The surface area of the resources they can tap dramatically expands.

Not only that, but they can also navigate the enterprise on a tight budget, and tap into networks they may not have otherwise explored on their own. This type of expansive, serendipitous collaboration is what drives fast action.

How to bring the “Diversity Drives Innovation” mentality to your organization

There are three things you can do right now to enhance your organization’s innovative potential:

1. Seek others’ perspectives

Innovation requires creating many ideas and selecting the best ones. By doing something as simple as including people with different viewpoints in your meetings, you’ll likely get inspiration you’d never think of on your own.

2. Be wary of the word “expertise”

Remember that experts aren’t always the ones with the right or best answers. In fact, the shelf-life of “expertise” is expiring more rapidly every day. Open yourself to the possibility that anyone, anywhere can catalyze your company’s next big idea.

3. When you’re on a team, bring your whole self to it

You as an individual have a wealth of experiences, interests, and passions to draw on. Use them. Your opinions and insights could send a conversation down a path toward creating something truly unlikely and unexpected!

Excerpts taken from:

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