Thursday, January 10, 2019

Playing Innovation Oddballs: Diversify the Diversity

The digital workplaces are a huge melting pot of various diversity.

The world now moves to the new era of hyper-connectivity, over-complexity, and fierce competition. Although information is abundant and knowledge is only a click away, many say we still live in the society of the information rich and insight poor. Organizations today desperately need business insight and foresight to move faster because knowledge can be outdated so soon and business lifespan is significantly shortened. The digital workforce is multigenerational, multicultural, and multi-devicing and the digital workplaces are a huge melting pot of various diversity. Besides diverse physical identity on the surface, such as age, gender or race, businesses leaders today must broaden their perspective and deepen their understanding of diversity. Because diversity is the hotbed to spark creativity. From the holistic digital management perspective, diversifying the diversity is truly about expanding the spectrum of modern diversity, to proactively evolve the multitude of hyperdiverse perspectives such as creative diversity, cognitive diversity, cultural diversity, skill diversity, and personality diversity, etc.

Creative diversity: Diversity is a facilitator for merging significant building blocks of new and existing ideas and concepts. It is an excellent engine for creativity. Diverse groups spark collective creativity and discover higher quality solutions. It is even not just about a soft culture thing, and it is easy to prove mathematically why this should be so. Thus, we must face diversity, bring in new ideas and new perspectives to make new creations and build a better future together. In fact, the lack of diversity makes organizations non-optimal. Focusing on diversity will force you to confront new ideas, new materials and possibly embrace a new concept that you may have never imagined. It is important for a creative team to have people who do not have the same view of the small part of the world that the team is dealing with so that they can pay off each other. Leaders should always look for the capabilities and skills that they don't have so that they can build a winning team and complement each other. In such a global climate, those businesses that are unwilling to genuinely embrace diversity, diversify the diversity, unable to know how to tap their diverse resources, be inclusive and recognize merit and ideas, no matter where they come from, will not be able to survive, leave alone thrive.

Cognitive diversity: Cognition is a perception, sensation, and insight. Cognition reorganizes parts of one’s belief system, and thoughts navigate within one’s present belief system as it is. The historic focus on easy-to-measure aspects of diversity (ethnicity, gender, age, etc.) might be too superficial, or even wrong-headed, because more often, such skin level difference is nothing to do with a cognitive difference -- how people think and approach the problems. It’s important to set up a team with cognitive differences, and its team members can proactively stimulate the new energy of fresh thinking. Even amongst a collegial group, sharp differences can arise. Collegiality and critical thinking are not mutually exclusive. To overcome the common challenges and advance the human race, we have to really dig beneath the superficial layer, see around the corner and transcend the interdisciplinary knowledge, to get to the heart of the matter via bridging cognitive gaps and enforcing multidimensional thinking. A high-performance team should have the cogitative difference and diversified worldview. In this regard, diversity should refer to cognitive differences, culture intelligence, and varying experiences people bring to the team.

Skill diversity: The indicators to assess the intrinsic capacity of individuals include: Self-awareness (recognition of one's strength and weaknesses), interdisciplinary skills and knowledge, cognitive ability and style, intellectual engagement, creative problem-solving, personality (openness to experience, tolerance of ambiguity, personal initiatives), tendency to constantly question the status quo, plasticity (fast learning), ability to identify patterns, ability to make unusual connections, capacity to adapt, emotional intelligence (risk-taking), willingness to accept feedback and/or a tenacity to refuse it, etc. In the team setting, there are levels of capabilities, complementary experiences, the spectrum of skills, unique competencies, cultural perspectives, and personalities. That's what cultivates the culture of innovation and improves business performance ultimately. High performing teams succeed because they are corporate in nature. Irrespective, strict adherence to team ground rules will sustain trust. A complementary team with skills diversity and differentiated competency are often much more innovative, always tried to be ahead of others, but in a constructive way.

It is a digital shift from managing people as resources and cost to investing them as asset and capital, from static monitoring to ongoing development. To improve decision effectiveness and continuously innovate within organizations, it’s important to diversify the diversity from the top down, individuals and groups also need to connect and communicate more openly, easily and effectively. From there, they need to work together efficiently on implementing ideas to deliver value. The focus of the workplace should be that of a unified team under a banner of that organization. At that moment, the organization is your tribe with the sole purpose of coming together for the common good to achieve ultimate business goals.


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