Most job adverts ask for applicants to have a certain amount of experience. As a proxy of ones abilities and knowledge however, it’s not exactly an illuminating one. I mean how do you measure experience? Does playing a small part in a project one time many years ago allow you to count that as experience?
I’m not sure even how you’d verify many of the claims that are made with regards to experience, and if you do the same thing every day for a few years, I wouldn’t say you’ve actually gained much in the way of experience.
The thing is, the same vague metrics are often used by organizations when describing their talent. They’ll say that they have x number of employees, or they’ll highlight their R&D expertise by boasting about how many scientists they have working in labs.
In much the same way as doing the same thing every day doesn’t make you particularly experienced, an organization with employees that are all largely identical doesn’t really merit a boast about the scale of their talent.
When everyone attacks a problem from the same angle then having additional numbers doesn’t really do much to help you.
It’s said that one of the strengths of open source software is that the applications tend to be tested by a wide and diverse group of people. Dutch researcher Bart Nooteboom argues that this kind of diversity is crucial to any sort of innovation.
He showed how basic, original designs became more sophisticated only when they were opened up to wide and extensive testing from a diverse body of people.
A report published by Deloitte came to similar conclusions. CalledDiversities New Frontierit looks at the critical role diverse thought plays in the success of any organization.
“A lot of organizations drive toward consensus, but we’re trying to say, ‘hey, that’s not the best way of doing things,’”says Nes Diaz-Uda, senior consultant at Deloitte Consulting LLP and one of the study’s authors.
Deloitte go on to highlight five ploys you can use to increase the thought diversity in your own business:
- Hire unconventional people –During recruitment, there is a tendency to hire people that are just like us. Research has shown that recruiting managers tend to like people that reflect them, which is not great for diversity of thought.
- Understand the talents people have –One suspects that most employees are akin to icebergs, with a great many of their talents and abilities unknown and underutilized in the workplace. A crucial part of having a diverse workplace is actually knowing what you have.
- Solicit feedback –I’ve written a lot recently on the importance of feedback, and managers need to do all they can to encourage it. It’s no use having diverse opinions if people are too afraid to share them.
- Utilize reverse mentoring –Whilst I appreciate the sentiment of this advice, I’m more inclined to think that encouraging a supportive culture in whatever way is the best approach. Help and advice should flow up, down and across the organization.
- Be open to new ideas –The employees within your organization are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ideas and insights. A corporate culture that is open to ideas will inevitably look to those outside the organization as well as those inside. Removing thenot invented hereculture and opening oneself up to ideas from all corners is a crucial part of being diverse.
Do you have a diverse workforce yourself or are they a group of Agent Smith’s, all with the same characteristics, thought processes and ideologies?