"Groupthink", or Why Diversity Will Save Your Business?
I do not belong here! And I am glad.
I recently went to an economics presentation on the effects of Brexit, here in London, where I was struck by the blandness of the audience - all white men, in their 40s in suits, the exact same shade of grey. I must have looked scandalous in my green dress!
Seeing this "sameness" made me feel uncomfortable and less confident in what I am about to hear, but I decided to give it a chance. Surely enough, the discussion and all the questions revolved around the finance sector and I was quite sad to have spent my morning not having seen the spark of creativity in thinking differently or maybe heard a more challenging question from, let's face it, intelligent professionals. By the end of this event, I wanted to run away and watch a Disney movie to regain my hopeful outlook on life and the future.
How do we foster change if we are all the same?
It made me think about how can we possibly stretch our thinking if we all come from the same background and carry the same biases through life.
In many organisations and cultures, hierarchy is still a strong force. I am sure you have experienced the painful silence in a conference room, despite hearing a leader saying something that just doesn't add up. Or what's even worse, the "groupthink" and building on that same idea that wasn't perfect to begin with. You can take a chance and point out the alternative ideas or solutions, but how often does that happen and how often does the corporate world provide a safe environment to do so?
Futures thinking teaches you to challenge your biases and in order to provoke change, you need a diverse team of people. Futures teams are usually made up of individuals with a very diverse personal and professional background. The seniority level does not matter, everyone's idea is equally respected and evaluated. Opposing views and discussions are, in fact, encouraged. This provides an opportunity to see a problem (or an opportunity) from many different perspectives, which eliminates the possible blind spots and is a base for a more robust set of strategies.
Why the best people don't mean the best teams?
While reading Exponential Organisations by Salim Ismail (thoughts about that book some other time), I came across a reference to Scott Page. He talks about the meaning of diversity in a complex world, the one we currently live in, where there is abundance of data. He argues that we should not be focusing so much on ability but more so on diversity.
A study shows that teams comprised of better qualified but more alike individuals perform worse than a diverse team of, say, less qualified individuals. Why? Because, when you are looking for novel ideas, you need diversity. Otherwise, you will just get more of the same.
Head to this link to watch the talk, it's worth the 9 minutes. https://bit.ly/2zsiaFK