BUSINESS BASICS NUMBER 24

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Embrace diversity. This business basic is often overlooked, much to the detriment of the organization, its employees, and its customers. Increasing numbers of organizations are recognizing the value of diversity and putting it into practice.

Diversity does not mean that we try to be all things to all people. It does not mean that we compromise our core values or expect every person to agree completely with everyone else’s values, beliefs, convictions, and attitudes. It does not mean that every organization must somehow open up its mission statement and broaden it to encompass everyone’s thinking. All this would be impossible.

Diversity means that we do not discount anyone or anything that is different. Rather, we respect those differences and seek ways to learn from them. In its simplest form, diversity simply means that we recognize the value that comes from differing perspectives. Everyone has blind spots. By definition, it takes another person to see my blind spots. Likewise, I can see another person’s blind spots.

If you have a problem and you must create a team to resolve it, think about the power of diversity. Let’s say that one team could be me and my nine clones (perish the thought!) and another team could be 10 diverse people. Diversity studies show that the more diverse team tends to create a solution that is superior to the homogenous team. This happens because the more homogenous the team is, the more it tends to confine itself to one way of looking at the problem. On the other hand, the more diverse the team is, the more it tends to consider multiple perspectives. Ultimately, one of those approaches, or a gleaning of many, synthesizes the best solution.

Diversity means work. Human nature dictates that we enjoy spending time with people who look, act, and think like us. There is nothing wrong with that. However, if we confine all our human interactions to a homogenous group, then we rob ourselves of rich benefits. It is far better to embrace diversity to enjoy all its benefit.

I don’t know about you, but I have never regretted gaining a new perspective on a situation. Let’s let diversity bring those new perspectives. You never know where it might lead.


About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Tyco Integrated Security at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, a blogger, and a University of Phoenix Associate Faculty member. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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