When it comes to creating productive, stimulating, and positively challenging workplace teams, diversity plays a positive role. According to Katherine Phillips’ article about diversity in Scientific American,
Being around people who are different from us makes us more creative, more diligent and harder-working.
Not surprisingly, more diverse groups – thus, groups with non-homogeneous norms and ideas – come up with more innovative solutions than homogeneous groups. Debate and compromise naturally occur when people with different views try to solve problems together. On the other hand, when people who think the same way get together, they are less pressured to come up with new and unusual solutions to problems. It takes a creative and varied group to approach problems from unique and never-before-seen angles. According to the Phillips,
It seems obvious that a group of people with diverse individual expertise would be better than a homogeneous group at solving complex, nonroutine problems. It is less obvious that social diversity should work in the same way—yet the science shows that it does. This is not only because people with different backgrounds bring new information. Simply interacting with individuals who are different forces group members to prepare better, to anticipate alternative viewpoints and to expect that reaching consensus will take effort.
So, next time you are working with a team or creating a team, take a good look around and consider the role diversity plays in group thinking. Are the members of your team or potential team from different backgrounds? Do they have different beliefs or are they different in appearance? Are some of them conservative while others are liberal? If they aren’t perhaps they should be. Diversity goes a long way when it comes to improving corporate culture.
If you are working with a diverse team, sure, it may be more challenging in some ways. But keep in mind that this particular brand of challenge is a potential secret ingredient for success! If teams are able to navigate their differences positively, more innovative solutions are more likely to be on the horizon and more positive culture-building shifts are likely to arise in the workplace. In the end, diverse teams are an important component of competitive organizations and a positive corporate culture – and thus diversity is likely to be better for business.
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