Teams solve problems faster when they are more cognitively diverse

We all know that diversity is valuable, but do you know what it is about diversity that creates value and how?

Fostering diversity of gender, age and culture in group environments helps to ensure everyone a place, open minds, and prevent social collapse. An inclusive perspective is absolutely essential. But it is not enough to bring people together to enhance innovation and performance! What’s needed for the latter is cognitive diversity, which is to say diversity in ways of thinking and addressing situations. Unlike many other traditional forms of diversity, it is invisible. This subject fascinates me.
Having a range of people on a team allows them to move away from assumptions and toward “attention credit”. It’s about realizing that we do not all wear the same blinders. In the face of other perspectives – rather than feeling threatened, thinking that we’ve been misunderstood, that someone is laughing at our ideas or hiding something from us – we embrace them as a way to see through what would otherwise by our blind spots. Just simply grasping the concept of cognitive diversity can prevent a number of conflicts. Watching others think freely, each in their own way, requires a bit of effort but then naturally enhances our ability to think bigger.
Having closed ranks that are similar to one another has the opposite effect. It is between similar minds that rivalries arise, which poison of the efficiency of the group. Teaming up by creating and welcoming divergent perspectives allows everyone to enrich themselves and develop their cerebral and behavioral plasticity. This is the way to achieve results that exceed all expectations.

To learn more: “Teams solve problems faster when they’re more cognitively diverse” d’Alison Reynolds et David Lewis (Harvard Business Review, 30 mars 2017).