Looking to Innovate? Try Workplace Diversity
Author Name: TrainingABC
Posted: 06-04-2018 04:25 PM
Synopsis: Every year competition becomes more fierce and every year the need to innovate becomes more critical. Organizations are constantly looking for ways to think differently. The answer may actually lie in a company's demographics. Diverse organizations bring a large variety of backgrounds and experiences with them to the workplace. This has proven to be a crucial factor in innovation.
It’s 2018. The world is getting smaller and our industries are getting more competitive. In an increasingly cutthroat marketplace, all of us are forced to spend more time focusing on that magical word that we all intuitively know:
Sure, we know that innovation is something that we should embrace. It’s something that will ultimately lead to greater profits for our company. We would all like our companies to emulate the “Think Different” attitudes of companies like Apple, Amazon, and Tesla.
But how can our organization embrace innovation so that we develop new ideas for products and services?
It’s a complicated question. However, diversity is one key ingredient to creating new, innovative products or services. Experts like Steven Johnson (in Where Good Ideas Come From) argue that diversity in background, ideas, and thought leads to more innovation compared to a community or organization that is less diverse. Further, research has shown that diversity is correlated with increased innovation.
It all sounds terrific. Just bring together a group of people with different backgrounds and ideas and voila—you and your organization are on the road to innovation nirvana.
OK. It may be more complicated than that. That said, why does diversity lead to innovation and new ideas? In other words, why is it that the combination of different backgrounds and ideas makes it easier for a group to develop innovative products and services?
To start, diversity in the workplace leads to a unique combination of old ideas, which leads the group to new, interesting ideas. Each of us has our own unique background and life experiences. It’s easy to be friends with people who are like us, but that creates an echo chamber, where we are exposed to the same ideas and framework of life experiences.
Instead, diversity leads to the collision of new ideas, which ultimately leads to innovation. The best new ideas are combinations of old ideas, and the fact that diversity leads to new ideas should galvanize our organizations to embrace a wide range of backgrounds and ideas in our office.
It is difficult to come up with truly original, new ideas. Instead, the best way to create innovation in the marketplace is to force the combination of old, somewhat tangential ideas. Diversity in the workplace can help facilitate that process.
Along with this, a diverse workplace leads to innovation because it forces employees to consider a mindset that is different than their own. Instead of feeling comfortable interacting with people who are similar to us, diverse colleagues force us to shift our paradigm.
But this is a great thing. We begin to understand that our story and our view of the world isn’t the only view of the world. We empathize with others and combine our views with those who are dissimilar with us. This empathy leads to off-kilter, interesting ideas that may work in the marketplace—so long as you try and alter your idea based on feedback from users.
Finally, diversity leads to more innovation because diversity attracts more diversity. If your workplace is known to be a welcoming, caring, embracing environment where employees can openly share their ideas and experiences, your organization will attract more individuals who adopt that attitude. It’s essentially a terrific recruiting tool that attracts even greater talent to your organization.
In other words, by creating an organization that embraces diversity, you attract more diverse candidates, which leads to more innovation. The flywheel continues to spin and, ultimately, increases the odds that you’ll develop innovative products and services.
In 2018, we can’t afford to be complacent. We can’t rest on our laurels and assume that our current products and services will lead to continued growth (and profits).
We need to innovate.
While there is a good amount of literature on ways to develop new products and services, the overwhelming consensus is that a team with diverse backgrounds, ideas, and experience will increase the odds that your organization will become more innovative. As with anything, there’s no guarantee, but foregoing this practice puts you at risk for falling behind to competitors.
Luckily, the next steps are within your organization's control. Is your organization ready?
Check TrainingABC's best-selling diversity video - Diversity Made Simple - and teach your employees how diversity can power your organization to the next level.