Have you ever heard of mildly racist mondays? Please do not be concerned 🙂 seriously! a hilarious colleague of mine invented this ‘comic theme’ a few months ago. You basically gather people of at least 3 different nationalities, pick a topic and start debating. Add a dash of millennials to the group and you have a recipe for some genuine fun! The topics often range from the famous Indian head-shakes, to the queue conundrum with the British. The banter is almost therapeutic and very good for team-bonding. In a way, we celebrate and appreciate diversity . As a result, we work better together, trust each other more and are more tolerant towards each others way of thinking. Hey and Mondays do not need a reason to be jazzed-up, right?
Anyway, speaking of diversity, 3 key themes stand out –
1. Diversity is a multi-dimensional concept
Diversity is not only about nationalities, races, genders and sexual orientations. Diversity can be much more than that. A millennial that does not believe in hierarchy is diversity. An individual that requires as a minimum a strong sense of purpose, is part of diversity too. Moreover in product teams, you may have a designer, an engineer and a marketing person that think very differently. This diversity of thoughts, beliefs, and opinions whilst not legally protected, needs some serious consideration.
2. Culture trumps process – every time!
I believe culture and diversity are joined at the hip. In order to create or maintain great culture, you need to re-assess the importance you give to diversity. Brian Chesky (CEO, AirBnB) puts in aptly in his article – “The culture is what creates the foundation for all future innovation. If you break the culture, you break the machine that creates your products“. The article also implies that strong culture removes the need for arduous processes. It is like doing mental math vs. doing calculations on paper. Mental math is great culture whereas calculations on paper are like processeses – they may achieve the same goal but processes are much slower (in most cases). Great culture means that you can trust people to make the right decisions!
3. Diversity helps avoid cognitive biases thereby improving decision-making
Recently Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in his interview to Sam Altman of Y-Combinator talked about how Facebook places its bets on the future. He highlighted the strong role culture plays in that decision-making, whether it be testing a new ad-format or choosing the next big thing or people to invest-in. Mark’s commitment to diversity is visible from the quote below (17:00 in the clip)
“We invest in people who we think are really talented, even if they haven’t done that thing before – like the CFO who hasn’t taken a company public before – we simply are committed to invest in talented people”
Having the diversity on the team also massively helps in putting checks and balances on the decision-making. This Deloitte University Press article sums it up nicely. It says, diversity of thought leads to the following –
- Avoiding group-think or expert opinion errors – as you benefit from having all the diverse perspectives on the same problem or solutions
- Increasing scale of insight – this is something that I have personally experienced in my career .. quality and scale of ideas or ingenious solutions is infinitely better in a diverse team
- Helps organisations identify the right talent to solve their most pressing issues – imagine having an option to use a broad spectrum anti-biotic as opposed to a single specialised anti-biotic that may or may not work in a bacterial infection (Sorry – for that example ;))
All these can be achieved through – hiring, managing and promoting differently. Please read the dupress article above for more insight.
Okay! now that I have given you 3 reasons to re-assess your understanding of diversity – if you want to learn more about the famous Indian head-shake, please DO NOT ask me. I really don’t know 🙂