Employees solving problem

Diversity won't be easy

Yet it can make all the difference

Written by Dr. Shaun Ridley FAIM
2 minute read
Employees solving problem

The evidence is clear - on average, diverse teams make better decisions than homogenous teams.

However, this does not mean managing a diverse team in a decision-making session will be easy.

In fact, it is likely to be much harder than working with a homogenous team – here’s why.

Consider these two scenarios.

Scenario one – you walk out of a scheduled one-hour decision-making meeting ten minutes late. You are exhausted. The debate went backwards and forwards.

Varied input from the diverse range of attendees challenged every suggestion and every previous assumption and convention.

People refused to vote or go along with a consensus without being comfortable with both the premise and the substance of the recommended outcome.

Eventually, everyone was happy with the final decision and was looking forward to its implementation.

Scenario two – you walk out of a scheduled one-hour decision-making meeting twenty minutes early. You are upbeat and ready for the next task.

The attendees were like-minded and as such, the consensus was reached quickly.

Everyone was on board with the final recommendation and was looking forward to its implementation.

Admittedly these are exaggerations of the point around diversity.

Rather than focusing on how hard or difficult the process of reaching a final decision was, there is only one relevant question of each of the attendees in both meetings – “did you make a good decision?”

It is likely the attendees in both groups will answer positively.

The attendees from scenario one might also add, “yes, but it was a challenging meeting”, whereas attendees in scenario two might add, “yes, and everything went quite smoothly”.

In the quest for faster decision-making and an easier life, it is tempting for a leader to assemble a group that resembles those in scenario two.

Yet the evidence supports the notion that, on average, diverse groups make better decisions.

So leaders looking for a good decision would be wise to invest in a diverse group of people who will challenge convention and ask difficult questions to truly interrogate a topic.

This will take more effort and probably more skill in managing the meeting, but the benefits are likely to be there in the long run.

One more small step in the next 24 hours

Evaluate the team you assemble for your next decision-making meeting. Have you selected a group who are likely to have the same views or who will form a coalition to squash any counter-views?

Consider who you might invite into the meeting to bring a fresh perspective. Bring in a provocateur who might sharpen a predictable decision or even offer brand-new insights on a decision no one had previously considered.