Valuing and Managing Diversity

Yesterday I went to a kick-off meeting with a new group that I’m working with. I was excited as we went around the room and introduced ourselves because it was clear that the project organizers had put significant effort into gathering a diverse set of people for this group. Yet as we started to dig into the work at hand, I quickly saw how challenging it is to have that range of voices in the room.

The meeting organizer impressed me when he paused the group to say, ‘We’ve gathered this team with this wide range of perspectives because we want push-back. We want reality checks. We want debate. Radical honesty and transparency is necessary for the success of this complex project that we are taking on.’

I agree with my whole heart. Yet, I recognize how challenging it will be to mediate that diversity. It’s a lot of work. It’s hard work. Thankfully there are many models that help us navigate complexity. Roger Martin’s Creating Great Choices is one model that works well (when faced with a seemingly either/or decision, explore alternative solutions that challenge and resolve that false dichotomy).

So this diverse group is in good hands. I appreciate how the meeting organizer explicitly stated the importance of diversity to the project. This transparency, along with the clear project scope and deadline that we have been tasked with, positions us to explore a wide range of solutions and equips us with tools for making smart decisions.