Diversity drives better results. Research has shown that teams with highly diverse opinions create three times as many successful innovations as groups with low levels of diversity. Diverse groups are also better at problem-solving and making new ideas real.

Many organisations suffer, however, from running teams and departments that are filled with people with similar experiences, opinions and thinking styles. In his book, Rebel Ideas, for example, Matthew Syed describes how the CIA’s recruitment of people with similar backgrounds (white, male, Anglo-Saxon, protestant Americans) made the organisation blind to the threat posed by Al Qaeda and, more specifically, the 9/11 bombers. 

On a far smaller scale, in a strategy meeting that I held this week, all the senior members of the group had a technical background. During the session, I shared three ideas for growth, one of which was technical. Over 80% of the time, however, was spent discussing the technical idea, at the expense of the other two.

The team focused on the areas where the leaders were most comfortable, but not necessarily where attention was most needed.

How cognitively diverse are the teams that run your most important growth initiatives? And what improvements to your levels of innovation, effectiveness and growth could you achieve if they had greater levels of diversity?

Off The Record: Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell

I’ve looked at life from both sides now

From win and lose and still somehow

It’s life’s illusions I recall

I really don’t know life at all

Getting Your Innovation Strategy Right

Business leaders are constantly exhorted to innovate. But what kind of innovation should managers pursue? The Innovation Strategy Matrix helps you to answer that question and get your innovation strategy right.

Stuart Cross 2021. All rights reserved.