“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” -Marcus Aurelius
You’ve probably heard any of the given advice before: seek input, welcome perspectives, collaborate with others. But why? Where does the premise come from that inclusion is beneficial for individuals, teams, or organizations?
An article from Scientific American entitled “How Diversity Makes Us Smarter” states that “decades of research by organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists and demographers show that socially diverse groups (that is, those with a diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation) are more innovative than homogeneous groups.” Although the focus should be geared toward diverse thought regardless of social group, this finding illustrates that when individuals from different walks of life come together and share unique viewpoints, positive results increase.
Our Fierce Team model uses the term “beach ball” to describe how perspectives occur within organizations. Each person, from every level within the organization’s hierarchy, has their own color stripe on the beach ball. And of course, it takes all the individual stripes coming together collectively to make up a complete beach ball.
The beach ball analogy derives from the idea that no single person holds the whole truth, but rather a mere sliver or “stripe” of it.
Inviting different stripes can be one of the most effective ways to explore potential solutions and make important decisions—our past experiences and backgrounds inevitably shape how we approach problems, and our varying strengths make it possible to see what others may not see, or create solutions that others may not have considered. And often, the best outcome or decision will be a union of various perspectives.
In 2013, Fierce provided training for the Iowa Department of Education. The organization was looking to increase collaboration among administrators, principals, and instructional coaches. After the implementation of our team model, a greater sense of unity was created by ensuring everyone was heard. “The process prevents domination by individuals,” said Dale Lass, Principal of Roosevelt Middle School. “Everyone has time to reflect on their thoughts and suggest solutions.” Through increased collaboration and sharing of perspectives, evaluations improved and the fabric of the organization changed for the better.
To read more, view the case study here.
To create an inclusive environment where other perspectives are welcomed, the focus should be on getting curious and expanding your thinking. This week’s Fierce tip on creating diversity of thought provides a more in-depth explanation on how to apply these two focuses.
Here are some additional tips to keep in mind when inviting perspectives:
1. Abandon “right and wrong”
Sure, there are times when objectivity is needed, and data doesn’t lie. But when it comes to our approach toward the perspectives of others, especially when subjectivity plays a role, it’s important to be open by avoiding the labels of “right” or “wrong” when inviting other perspectives. The question to ask is: what’s the best collective decision for the organization based on the individual information that’s been shared?
2. Practice inclusion without illusion
[tweetable text="<strong>Don’t just implement inclusion initiatives for the sake of best practices. </strong>" tweet="“Don’t just implement inclusion initiatives for the sake of best practices. ” via @fierce_inc"] Do so out of genuine curiosity and interest. Check in with yourself regarding your approach—if you don’t believe another’s input to be valid or worth hearing, chances are, they’ll be able to pick up on the fact that you’re brushing their perspective under the rug. Remind yourself that every stripe has value (regardless of organizational level) and listen with an open mind.
An added benefit to inviting diverse perspectives is that on an individual level, we feel appreciated and heard. Knowing that your own stripe is being considered, regardless of the outcome, is a good feeling.
Have you or your organization achieved a positive outcome from having invited various perspectives? If so, share your story with us.