Posted by Juliet Bourke on May 10, 2016.
Five years ago I started reading everything I could find on the topic of diversity of thinking and decision making. There was a lot more opinion than fact, so I started doing my own research too. And, because I work in consulting, my team and I did a lot of our research in real workplaces. So our ideas are thoughtful and practical.
I made mistakes—the biggest one was to think that diversity of thinking was a substitute for capability. It’s not. You can’t just put a whole lot of people into a room who know nothing about a topic and assume that diversity of thinking will plug those knowledge gaps. Take it from me—I tried it, it doesn’t work.
But we also got some big breakthroughs—and I wanted to share how I got smarter—and how you can too. Because if you know these things, you can make better choices and you won’t need to rely on luck.
It will be hard—doing similarity of thinking is much easier—but it will be worth it. Diversity of thinking can reduce the risk of making mistakes by up to 30 percent,1 increase the potential for innovation by about 20 percent,2 and increase followership in the final decision. Three great reasons to get clear on what “diversity of thinking” really means.
I’ve already shared some of the findings in two previous posts.
In Diversity of thinking: Taking a good idea and making it real, I looked at the difference between brainstorming (a popular approach to problem-solving and innovation) and disciplined deep exploration of one’s own domain along with elaboration on those ideas by boundary spanning and integrating ideas from someone else’s domain.
In Innovation, high performance, and diversity, I looked at how gender diversity, racial diversity, and the inclusion of multiple problem-solving approaches are the puzzle pieces that fit together to make “smart” teams smart.
My recent minute talk at TEDxSouthBank, How to be smarter and make better choices, brings those ideas together and adds some new ideas. 13 minutes well spent? Watch below and let me know what you think.
1 Hong, L., Page, S., and Riolo, M., (2012) Incentives, Information and Emergent Collective Accuracy, Managerial and Decision Economics, Vol 33 pp 323-332.