Diverse Team

How cognitively diverse is your team?

I love thought provoking magazines. One of my favourites is Collective Hub. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favour and get your hands on their 50th anniversary issue. It features an article called “What I Know” where they have asked some of their favourite people to share their greatest lessons on a whole range of interesting topics.  They spoke to Dominic Price, the Head of R&D at Atlassian, asking him to provide his thoughts on the topic of Diversity.  

The gist of Dominic’s thoughts is that when it comes to creating a great team who are geared to produce extraordinary results, great minds do not think alike, and that cognitive diversity is the key!

Cognitive diversity refers to the way employees think and act, as opposed to the workplace diversity we normally think about, which looks to widening our talent pool to ensure we have a balance of gender, race, age and backgrounds.

Dominic says, “My greatest lesson is the value of cognitive diversity. Now when I have a ‘genius’ idea, I seek out a detractor to help me. Someone with a different mindset, experience, thought pattern, perspective. Not because I want them to squash my idea, but the diversity of their thought helps me to complete my idea.”

It made me reflect on the teams I have been part of. The most successful ones, were without a doubt, the ones where we had clear cognitive diversity. Where we thought, acted and were motivated differently.

Sure, it’s easier when everyone is cut from the same cloth…when you all enjoy the same things, share similar backgrounds, life experiences and get along so well you want to hang out after work, but the question is this, is your ‘tribe’ limiting your potential? Are the results of a like-minded team restricted due to the lack of cognitive diversity?

I say yes, they are. In my experience having a cognitively diverse team ranks up there with having strong leadership and great communication. It is just as essential if you want to be recognised for being forward thinking and innovative.

So, ask yourself,

  • Do your people understand their own strengths and stretches?
  • Do your people understand the different strengths, stretches and preferences of their team mates?
  • Do you know how to utilise the cognitive differences in your team to achieve the results you are aiming for?

The motto of this story, as Dominic Price puts it is to “surround yourself with people who can fill in your blind spots”.

Read more of Dominic’s ideas here: https://collectivehub.com/2017/06/scared-to-talk-about-diversity-ill-go-first/


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