DIVERSITY IN THE WORKPLACE WILL LEAD TO INNOVATION

By: Stephen Hevesi

“When all think alike, then no one is thinking” — Walter Lippman

We are living in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment in which the speed of change is unprecedented. Technology is changing at a very rapid pace. In order to survive and thrive, we need to innovate continuously, and innovation requires thinking differently – thinking outside the box. To do so, companies must hire diverse talent not only from different races, nationalities and backgrounds, but also from different industries. However, today most companies still hire talent based on industry experience.

A Consumer Goods company hiring a product manager will search for candidates with Consumer Goods experience in product management; a Telecom company most certainly wants candidates with Telecom experience. Why do companies do that? A few reasons: 1) Reduce risks; 2) The new hire can be in the ground running almost immediately; 3) It’s their comfort zone.

While this made sense 20 years ago when change was relatively slow, it is questionable in today’s rapidly changing environment. How are you going to find the revolutionary new ideas with people who think alike?

My view for a successful organization in the 21st century goes beyond the traditional definition of diversity and inclusion. It’s important to hire people from other industries, with different work experiences and backgrounds to bring new ideas and perspectives.

Some examples: A decade ago 3M developed an innovative concept for a facial skin infection product with input from a theatrical make up specialist. A deep-water oil drilling company got revolutionary concepts from marine biologists and not engineers.

To foster diverse and innovative ideas in your workplace, first gain a deep understanding of the issues you are trying to solve. Then, look for experts outside of your industry to bring in a fresh perspective to help address those issues.

Stephen Hevesi is an Executive Coach and advisor and an Aligned Growth partner. For more information:  https://alignedgrowth.com/team/stephen-hevesi/ or www.stepforwardcoaching.org.

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