All you have to do is turn on the news to see that there is a lack of diversity of thought around us, from our grid-locked Congress to our arguments about anything under the sun. There is never one simple solution to the challenges we face, and we need, more than ever, diversity of thought. In order to get there, we need to focus on two things: getting curious and expanding our thinking.
To dig a little deeper, I want to share a relevant excerpt from our white paper: A Perspective on Diversity, Building a Culture of Curiosity:
The metaphorical phrase “you can’t judge a book by its cover” has endured as long as it has for a reason. In a similar vein, an employee should not be judged by the generation they represent, the religion they practice, or the socioeconomic status they were raised in. Because the combination of experiences and characteristics are so vast, it is fruitless to attempt to do so.
What organizations can do is ensure employees become skilled at gathering insights from people of all backgrounds and encourage employees to interrogate their own perceptions of reality. Focus then shifts to the ideas, and thought processes of the individual.
One of the transformational ideas at Fierce, Inc. is that “all conversations are with myself and sometimes they involve other people.” In other words, everyone enters into conversations with their own opinions, beliefs and attitudes. Instead of getting curious and learning, people often use conversations as a forum to validate, confirm, and reinforce their own previously held beliefs.
This week’s tip is to create more diversity of thought around you. Here are two ways to do it.
Building a work environment where diversity of thought is valued begins with the commitment to enter into each conversation without making assumptions, to interrogate personal context. The goal is to learn rather than to convince. If participants spend an entire meeting convincing others of what they know, nobody learns anything new. Curiosity not only brings fresh ideas to light, it also increases the likelihood of well-rounded decisions.
Without curiosity and inquisitiveness, meetings become mere presentations; perspectives are not shared and acumen is not improved.
Organizations understand the benefits of a workforce that represents its consumers and clients. When employee diversity mirrors the customer base, organizations have a better understanding of the clients they serve. However, if the work environment rewards apathetic agreement, thereby discouraging the very differences it sought to engage, the benefits of a diverse workforce are wasted and the organization is put at risk of falling into the trap of group think.
Diversity, in and of itself, is not the ultimate goal.[tweetable text="The ultimate goal is the creativity, innovation and insight that result from open and inclusive dialogue." tweet="“The ultimate goal is the creativity, innovation and insight that result from open and inclusive dialogue.” via @fierce_inc"]
Leaders can replace the potential for diverse thought with the reality of diverse thought by creating a work environment that encourages employees to challenge their own realities, ask questions, and revisit alternate perspectives regularly.
What will you do to create diversity of thought with your work?