Deliberate Diversity™ is a management discipline with a purpose, a process and a payoff. It is where diversity and management skills intersect and is designed to produce better business results. For companies looking to take the next logical step in their diversity journey, this management discipline allows for continued growth and ensures that organizations get the best out of their people.
As you will see, Deliberate Diversity™ is not hard to do. In fact, it includes things you may be already doing or can learn to practice quickly. There are seven steps to Deliberate Diversity™, which combine clear purpose, a simple process, and practical skills. Let’s take a look at the first three:
1. Strategic Thinking
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Sometimes introducing a disciplined seven step process might not be worth the time and effort. Therefore, at the outset, its important to determine whether Deliberate Diversity™ is the right approach for the particular challenge we are facing. This means taking the time to run a strategic analysis before diving in head first. Engaging in Strategic Thinking also allows us to identify a vision for the project and helps to determine what we hope to gain by carrying it out.
2. Radical Selection
Once we’ve engaged in Strategic Thinking, its time to get into the most critical element of Deliberate Diversity™ – Radical Selection. Radical Selection is based on the premise that the right diversity of perspectives makes any problem easy. The idea is to seed the project team with an array of different kinds of people in order to increase the likelihood of breakthrough thinking. That means inviting people who perform a variety of functions inside the company and (the radical part) inviting at least 50% of the team from outside the company. The reason we do this is to increase the range of possibilities for problem solving. Bringing in outsiders allows us to draw from a collective knowledge base which incorporates ideas and perspectives we can’t generate on our own.
3. Transparent Formation
The Deliberate Diversity™ project team that is assembled in this way is unique. It is made up of people with broadly differing perspectives, opinions, and motives. Getting a team like this together can be a messy process. That’s why its necessary for the team leader to be transparent about their expectations for the team’s dynamics. Members should not necessarily expect a smooth, polite experience. Rather, they need to know what working in a Deliberately Diverse setting is like upfront. This way, they are not surprised when their “brilliant idea” falls flat or when others put forth “stupid” ideas. A team leader can keep a project from getting derailed by inevitable clashes of perspective by taking ten minutes to explain what’s expected at the outset of the project and then dropping quick reminders into the discussion as needed.
A Deliberate Diversity™ project must be supported by all parties within an organization, from the senior management team, to part-time and contract employees. Every person needs to have the opportunity to be heard, and every person must be given equal value. Read Part 2 of the Deliberate Diversity™ Series for the next four steps in achieving tangible benefits from diversity management.