Diversity of Thought

We know that, statistically, diversity of a team increases productivity. A study by McKinsey & Company concluded that productivity was 15% higher in gender diverse teams and 35% higher in ethnically diverse teams. Creating diverse teams can challenge preconceived notions with unique viewpoints.

Prairie State’s Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Committee is not only focused on gender and ethnicity, but also many other aspects of diversity. We strive to foster an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their views and being authentic. Our focus for the month of April is diversity of thought, also known as cognitive diversity.

Many people shy away from conflict, and it’s true that too much conflict can be a source of negativity. However, bringing unique ideas to the table can certainly be an advantage. To be truly inclusive, we must encourage different viewpoints and opinions. If everyone in the company were to have the same thoughts and ideas, we would become stagnant, halting growth and innovation.

Cognitive diversity is not only about background, experiences, and opinions. While these all play a part in what we think about cognitive diversity, the root of the phrase is about the differences in how people prefer to think. A metaphorical model of the brain, the Herrmann Whole Brain® Model (below), shows four different preference clusters. While we all have the ability to think using these different methods, most people prefer one or two of them over the others. It’s natural to have a preferred way of thinking.

When we talk about cognitive diversity, we’re talking about this diversity of thinking preferences. Each one has its own strengths. When a group of people have diverse thinking preferences, they can approach challenges from different angles to find the best solution. Being intentional about encouraging diversity of thought can help us all function better as a team.

To embrace cognitive diversity, we must accept that there’s not just one right way to get things done. Take a look at the model above to consider your preferred way of thinking.