Diversity: A pathway to connection, common ground and innovation

Diversity is a hallmark of innovative teams.  One of the best ways to expand your own problem-solving capabilities is to diversify; apply a different lens, different perspective, to the problem.

Traditional pathways

If you’re a facilitator, you know how to build bridges between people’s differences, find common ground, as a stepping stone to joint solutions and agreement.

Mediators are facilitators, too.  They facilitate negotiations between parties in conflict.  One of the most common models mediators use, to identify common interests and needs, is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

There are other ways, too.

Working with diversity

Focusing on diversity offers another path to discovery; discovering what’s common between people, making a connection between them, a bond that can be built on.

Earlier this week I attended a meeting of the Community Partnership Network, coordinated by the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA).  The diversity of people in the room reminded me of a Diversity diagram (see below) I had, courtesy of Steven Baileys of ICA

Gardenswartz, L. & Rowe, A. (1994)

Look at that diagram.  See how many opportunities there are to make connections between people!

We all have similar internals.  When we come into this world we have no control over age, race, gender.  As we journey through life, we may choose different people and paths (dramatically, if we’re talking sex change), yet our life pattern is potentially most similar, at birth.  Work with that.

Moving out to the next level of the diagram, permutations on external dimensions vary, as we assert our individuality.  Yet, what an opportunity for facilitators, to creatively make connections, discover common interests; e.g., based on income, religion, work experience.  Why not?

And then there is the organizational level, another rich area for potential connection and commonality.

Diversity is a powerful tool.  I’m doing some work as a virtual facilitator, with IdeaConnection, facilitating, teams of problem-solvers, working on innovation challenges.  Each team member brings different skills, experience & perspective to the table.

Diversity is power.  Make use of it.

How do you take advantage of the potential of diversity, to build bridges between people?

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