You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘Great minds think alike’. You might have even used it yourself. And in many cases, it might well be true. In business, however, it’s not always true and it could even harm your business to be of this opinion and only listen to people with a similar point of view to your own.
In fact, there’s growing evidence that cognitive diversity – including lots of different ways of thinking, viewpoints, and skill sets – is vital for businesses. Without it, businesses run the risk of stagnating as they can fail to innovate and grow. So, let’s look closer at the benefits cognitive diversity can bring and how businesses can make sure they include it in their organisation.
Having a leadership team with diverse ways of thinking is essential. It encourages constructive challenge and stops group thinking. This might result in the occasional disagreement but having a culture where everyone’s opinion is listened to will keep these to a minimum and people will get more comfortable participating.
This approach will also filter down into the rest of the business. Employees will feel valued and empowered. Having a voice leads to everyone feeling more motivated, which means better productivity, improved employee retention and a greater ability to attract talent.
How cognitive diversity gives us new ways to solve old problems
Businesses will face many challenges over the years. And some will fail to solve them because they keep trying the same thing or putting the same person in charge. Shaking things up by trying different approaches to problems and getting other people’s input can be far more effective. It can get rid of the ‘We’ve always done it this way’ mindset that can hinder so many organisations.
Innovative ways to innovate
Innovation should be at the forefront of every business, whether it’s to drive productivity, cut costs, become more eco-friendly, or something else. Cognitive diversity can really help here too. Again, ask for input from lots of people and take people out of their comfort zones by getting them to come up with innovative ideas in one or two areas they’re not normally concerned with in their business role.
This last point is worth exploring further. Human nature is to do things we like doing and to avoid tasks we feel uncomfortable about. One of the side-effects of this is that it can stifle innovation and, ultimately, growth. But on the flip side, getting people comfortable with the uncomfortable can generate fresh thinking and new ideas, and boost growth.
Start slowly, and finish big
Of course, change of this nature can’t be done quickly, but it is important to start making adjustments as soon as possible. Start slowly by looking at how other organisations do things and what you can bring to your own. You need to take everyone else on the journey with you too, so talk to them about it and implement gradually until you’re ready to make the big changes.
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