Diversity Comes in Many Forms

diversityWe think of a group of people who look different from one another are diverse. And that is true. They are. However, the importance of that difference to the making of decisions does not lie solely in the group members’ outward appearance or life experiences. It is the knowledge base each person brings from their life experiences that matters most. The purpose of this post is to make you consider the importance of diversity of thought in-group decision-making.
James Suroweicki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds, wrote, “cognitive diversity is essential to good decision making.” [1] Each member of the group brings their own kernel of knowledge to the table. Irving Janis coined the term “groupthink” in describing the potential of a group to regulate and restrict possible solutions to a problem because of their similar-mindedness. They all have similar life experiences. They all came from similar neighborhoods, with similar parents, and similar culture. Which led to them all thinking the same way with a similar knowledge base to draw from. So, it is the diversity of thought that separates an argument, an exchange of ignorance, from a discussion, an exchange of ideas. James Suroweicki said it best when writing, “the best collective decisions are the product of disagreement and contest, not consensus or compromise.” [1]

A group is better able to generate an effective decision when it is made up of people that are diverse in terms of their life experiences, worldly perspective, cultural bias, and, most importantly, varied areas of expertise.
[1] Surowiecki, J. 2005. The Wisdom of Crowds. Anchor Books: New York, NY.

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