When we think of “diversity” we are quick to think of a workplace consisting of people of different races, genders, cultures, backgrounds and these are all certainly things that are components of diversity. However, this is only a part of what diversity encompasses. In this article we will be discussing diversity of thought.
Imagine everyone is like you and thinks just like you do…yes you are likely to have a consensus on everything, but that isn’t the real world! People think differently and people approach problems in different ways. If you nurture an environment where people aren’t afraid to express those individual thoughts imagine how many new solutions you would have? How many new ideas?! Only with diversity of thought will you get real innovation and growth.
There are many different ways to cultivate diversity of thought. Of course, this can be done through the hiring process. If you prioritise hiring people from a range of backgrounds you are more likely to get people with different views and ways of working but the way you hire can also draw out these differences. Let’s say you have 3 people interviewing for a role, A, B and C, you ask them 10 standardised questions. A and B get 7 questions right and C gets 5 questions right. Your natural instinct is to employee A or B because they got the most questions correct, right? But A and B answered the same 7 questions correctly and C answered a different 5 correctly. Maybe C could be the better option because they clearly think in a different way to the others?
You can also promote thought diversity through management. As mentioned previously, if you can foster a culture of open, effective communication and you encourage people to challenge each other, you will definitely see a wave of innovation and development through people being able to exercise their own thought diversity.
How about individual thought diversity? How do you think about things? How do you go about solving problems? If you can identify this, you can establish what your strengths are but also areas where you may be lacking… think about how this could help you grow?! If you always look at problems in the same way then you may be missing great solutions. For example, if you are always really positive about ideas and like to jump straight in and get going, the likelihood is you haven’t thought about what could go wrong. If you are very data driven, this might stunt your creativity. Next time you are working on something why not put a different ‘hat’ on and think about the problem from a different perspective. There has been some research done into understanding what each of these ‘hats’ is which you can read about here….. https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTED_07.htm. And then why don’t you have a look at what your preference is by doing this test…. https://www.gotoquiz.com/six_thinking_hats_jensen_test.
It is clear that having cognitive diversity in an organisation is a key driver in the growth of a company and therefore holds importance. But diversity of thought is also a key driver in the growth of individuals.