Diversity may be the answer

Diversity may be the answer

The post this week is written from the Qatari desert. A great place to enjoy silence and think about how different the world can be depending on from where we look at it. Different and diverse as we human beings are, and thus perfect to face every challenge together. The earth needs the ice from the poles and the sand from the desert; the rain from the tropical forest and the tide from the seas. Equally, humans need to work together with different perspectives to face our challenges. Diversity may be the answer to what is happening now.

Last week, I talked about that non-lineal and incomprehensible context impacting everything – people, societies and, of course, companies -, and how it calls for a different approach: a mix of rational capacity and emotional capability, making room for other type of skills, not so commonly deployed. A straight way to mix this together is building diverse teams.

Lack of diversity leads into convergent thinking

It is great when we are with people like us, isn’t it? We share perspectives and vision, so we can agree on what is the best solution pretty fast. There are no discussions but about small details; we feel connected, aligned, supported and efficient. And yet, we’re probably missing some key points.

Single talent teams have convergent thinking, what makes agreements easy to get. Everyone, more or less, look at the matter from the same side. And this also make the team easier to manage. That’s why, when building teams, leaders are usually tempted to hire the same kind of people; with the same talent, background, culture, age or gender, in an attempt to maximize efficiency, reducing problems.

That mono-talent framing may seem reliable (because it’s easier) but it’s brittle. When the conventional strategies fail, there’s not another place to go. New perspectives are needed.

Diverse teams are a challenge worth taking

Building a diverse, unconventional talent team requires intention.

What are the pros to put together people with different talents, backgrounds, cultures, ages or genders? Getting different perspectives, reveal blind points, challenge the state-of-the-art. In summary, having more options.

What are cons? Clearly, making a diverse team to develop its true potential is more complicated. The leader needs to set the right conditions for this to happen. It’s hard work and takes more time.

When we put together people who are very different from each other, we need to know that they approach, perceive and understand things very differently – exactly what we look for-, and yet it will make it difficult to work efficiently. This may lead into lack of trust, first step to build a high performing team, and conflicts.

But we have no option. Our strategies are failing, and we need to consider new paths and move forward, learning the benefits of having unconventional talent in our teams.

Avoiding bias and building trust, consciously managing conflicts, promoting collaboration and making everyone feel they are an essential part of the group might be the first tasks for a leader who wants a diverse team. Productivity might be not. This type of teams requires a compromise between performance and time and a leader highly intentional. In the long term, they will be more reliable and better performers.

 Diversity may be the answer to get results in this non-linear and incomprehensible context.