Why Diversity of Thought Leads to Better Teams

Julie Shenkman
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Diversity of thought is the idea that there is more than one way to think about something. Everyone interprets and interacts based on their unique identity, personal experiences, culture, and personality type. And when there are few differences amongst people—ideas and solutions are unchallenged and unchanged. The more variation in thoughts and approaches to problems, the greater the diversity of thought.  

We might not like it, but we need others to challenge our thoughts to ensure we’re thinking broadly enough. If you don’t take into account other perspectives, you’ll never grow and evolve in how you make decisions. Having an open-mind and accepting that there’s more than one way to do something is empowering for yourself and your business. The numbers don’t lie, diverse organizations generate higher revenues, have lower turnover rates, and are more innovative

Plus, multiple points of view at the table bring a wider pool of knowledge to each project. It is easy to get caught up in group think. It’s also important to note that diversity and diversity of thought aren’t always one in the same. Yes, having a group of people with different backgrounds and cultures is important, but if everyone at the table is an analytical thinker, they’ll likely come to the same conclusion. Diversity of thought means that at the table you have some analytical thinkers, some brainstormers, and some empathetic thinkers. Different types of thinkers create better results. Yes, it might be a painful journey to reach the final destination with all of these different types of thinkers, but that’s the point! Along the way you stopped to understand how the different paths would impact how the team would collectively cross the finish line—despite their differences.  

Four ways to ensure your workforce includes a variety of thinking types: 

1. Break down walls between teams. Including members from different teams across an organization in theory will turn out great ideas. Representatives from different groups with different perspectives, skill sets, and insights will all bring value to a project. 

2. Coming up with more than one answer. When there’s group think, one conclusion is made and that’s the direction the people in the room go in. However, with diverse thinking techniques, getting the people in the room to come up with multiple right answers will stretch folks out of their comfort zone.  

3. Personality tests can lead to better problem solving. Having employees take personality tests like the Myers Briggs and then bringing unlikely pairs together can drive better collaboration through empathy. 

4. Give everyone a voice. With different types of thinkers in the room, it’s important to hear from everyone and even more important to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable to share. The loudest voice in the room isn’t always the right one.  


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