Solutions created by diverse teams tend to be more innovative or creative than those devised by more homogenous teams.
It’s been shown time and time again, in study after study.
This really shouldn’t be surprising. If we assume that different backgrounds and different experiences are likely to lead individuals to different conclusions, then having a broad set of answers presented is likely to give us more possible solutions to choose from.
Innovation isn’t driven by the same people trying over and over to solve the same problems in new ways.
It takes innovative thinking–new perspective and insight.
We often think of creativity as coming from some hidden region of the brain that we must unlock or tap into. But in reality, most creativity–most innovation–comes from some kind of outside stimulus or inspiration. Our brain takes things that are familiar to us and puts them together in new and interesting ways or identifies new patterns.
In practice, it feels like a eureka moment–you’ve just struck on an idea.
But, biologically, it’s more like you’re shaking the same snow globe over and over again until you get the snow to land in just the right pattern.
If we extend this snow globe metaphor to think about diversity, it’s like having a big set of different snowglobes. If you shake all of them at the same time, each one will end up with a unique outcome. You cycle through more potential snow patterns in less time and you cover a broader range of possible snowfall. This means that you’re more likely to hit on the “right” one and it will also take less time than if you only had one snow globe to shake.
This is because our brains are wired to make associations. We find common links and similar patterns that take us from point A to point B. So, in order to come up with some new or different idea, we often need some new or different way to connect those dots.
One of the most effective ways to come up with different conclusions from the same set of circumstances is to alter our perspective on the problem. That can be incredibly difficult to accomplish if a group of similar people are tasked with solving similar problems over and over again. Habits begin to take hold. The same thinking is applied time and time again.
Moreover, those same ways of thinking continue to pop up even when the problem changes.
We approach different problems with the same (or similar) perspectives and therefore often derive much the same conclusions.
Not only do people from diverse backgrounds bring their own ideas and thoughts to the table, but a diverse team is able to learn from the experience of others. So, over time, members of a diverse team who are exposed to more diverse perspectives then individually gain a broader worldview that will literally reshape the way they think.
In other words, having diversity on your team helps each member of your team to think in new ways.
So, not only will new and different solutions be introduced by team members with different life experiences, but being exposed to those different perspectives will make every member of your team more creative and help them to advance new and more innovative solutions in the future.
Too often, we get wrapped up in the politics and tokenism of diversity.
But, the value of diversity isn’t about numbers or quotas. It’s about creating competitive advantage by introducing new worldviews and overcoming stigmas and barriers between people from different backgrounds.
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