How To Do Diversity Right (Hint: Its Essential To Innovation)
Diversity Is Key, But Of Mind, Not Body
Over the last few days, a memo has been circulating from a fired Google employee regarding hiring, biological differences between humans, and why some humans may be better suited for some roles than others.
While the memo may have made some distinctions people are unhappy with, it truly did shine a light on the politics of groups and identity. Groups and identity are interesting human concepts, but ultimately invalid ones, because, in my mind, groups are incorrect or misleading representations of any specific individual’s skill sets and capabilities.
No matter your background, “race” (and if you ask me, our “race” is a misnomer, we are all human, and part of the human race), sex, gender, color, or other proclivities, you are still a human. As a human, you should always be viewed as an individual human, not as part of this group or that group.
You may share certain things with this or that group (white, black, Asian, lesbian) but those things should not affect anyone’s ability to excel at whatever job that they are looking to hire someone to do. If it does, then that could be an issue.
We should all be blind to the group’s people put themselves in and always look at individuals individually as special in their own ways, and never lump them into a group and having all of the same attributes as that group.
When you are looking for creativity, diversity of thought is key. Many new innovative ideas come out of a diverse team (and when I talk about diversity, I’m not just talking external physical differences, but those who can literally think differently as well) because you have that great juxtaposition of the minds, each bringing new insights to the table. When we are looking for new innovative and creative ideas and thinking, then you need a neurodiverse team.
However, when you simply want to execute and execute rapidly, then you require a less neurodiverse team. Think about a squad of Marines, where they must all learn similar leadership traits in order to complete their missions. Honesty, teamwork, preparation, tact, initiative, and others are drummed into trainees from the beginning, honing their minds to the single purpose of completing the mission. The Marines are trained to come up with creative solutions to complete the mission, but they have to think within the box of completing the mission.
On the flip side, if you are looking to develop innovative new products and services, you need that open-ended mash-up of ideas from all quarters.
So yes, you need neurodiversity within your organization, both for creativity and execution sake, but simply arranging your teams for your intended purposes is not a bad thing.
It’s similar to putting your teams in a creative space versus an organized space – those in the creative space will tend to come up with more creative ideas when those in the organized space will be able to execute better.
You need all minds of different kinds, individuals, not groups, in order to develop creative visions and then to execute those visions.