Career Development / Changing Workforce

Cultivate diversity to get original ideas from your team

If you put the same five people in a room, can you really expect originality?

By Dirk Willard

While on a flight to Wisconsin, I was reading a series of articles in Scientific American on diversity when it struck me that we have a problem in engineering: we value being a “good team member” over diversity. I think most managers see a team as a group of people selected to do their bidding. I can’t recall how many times I’ve been accused of not being a “team player” or asked by a human resources (HR) manager if I was a team player. Of course, the “correct” answer if you want the job is an unblinking “Yes” — a smile sells it!

However, a team can gain significant strengths from diversity and a climate open to contrary views. A good team member has the courage to voice opinions and a genuine curiosity for those of others. What was interesting in the Scientific American articles is how science had shown that diversity spurs creative, effective problem solving.

To learn more about team dynamic, read “Make Your Team More Effective” from Chemical Processing.

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