Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Gaining a better appreciation for diversity

In reading THE MEDICI EFFECT (pages 79-83, especially) by Frans Johansson, I've gained a better understanding of his view of the value of working with 'diverse' groups.  It is the 'diversity of thought' (driven by cultural, ethnicity, and geographic orientation) that really matters.  He explains the psychological basis for our natural tendency to resist working with diverse teams.  This phenomenon is called "similar attraction effect". The more we know, the better we are able to combat our resistance.

It absolutely reinforces for me the belief that it is the 'diversity of thought' that matters.  The physical appearance (color/ethnicity) of a person plays a very small role in the diversity of their thought processes.  I don't care about your religion, your sex, your ethnicity, your color or your sexual orientation, what do you bring to the table in the way of new ideas?

Johansson pointed to the success of the Bletchely Park group of cryptologists who broke the ENIGMA machine in World War II and, along with U.S. TENTH Fleet intelligence, ended the German U-Boat threat which plagued the U.S. and her allies.  This 'diverse' group included linguists, mathematicians, chess grand masters and crossword addicts.  This group was also culturally, ethnically, sexually and geographically diverse.  Their "diversity of thought" allowed them to increase the randomness of the combination of concepts they explored in solving the ENIGMA puzzle.

More on Diversity of Thought HERE.

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