How Great Companies Fuel Innovation Through Diversity

The Power of Diversity

I’m a passionate believer in diverse teams. Throughout my life and career, I have seen the benefits from multiple perspectives examining a problem together. If everyone thinks exactly the same way, with the same background, you end up with a narrow solution. A lack of diversity increases the likelihood of strategic blind spots.

 

“If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.” –J.F.K.

 

That’s why I read with great interest David Livermore’s new book, Driven by Difference: How Great Companies Fuel Innovation Through Diversity. David Livermore has written ten books on global leadership and cultural intelligence. He is president of the Cultural Intelligence Center and a visiting scholar at Nanyang Business School in Singapore.

 

“A lack of diversity increases the likelihood of strategic blind spots.” -Skip Prichard

 

The Goal of Diversity is Not Enough

In your book, you argue that diversity, as a goal, is not good enough. Would you elaborate on this?

I applaud any effort to hire a more diverse workforce. But if that’s all you do, you set everyone up for failure. “Different” perspectives, values, and strategies for getting work done easily lead to misunderstanding, frustration, and gridlock. Diversity needs to be managed with a culturally intelligent strategy for how to effectively use the diverse perspectives to drive innovation and improve employee engagement.

 

“The more diverse the team, the less likely participants will offer their input and perspectives.” –David Livermore

 

The Link Between Innovation and Diversity

You say that diversity by itself does not ensure innovation, but it does when combined with high CQ. What is CQ? What’s the link between innovation and diversity? 

Driven by DifferenceCQ, or cultural intelligence, is the capability to work effectively with people from different cultural backgrounds. It’s measured using a CQ Assessment, which predicts how effectively one will work in situations characterized by cultural diversity.

Our research finds that diverse teams comprised of individuals with low CQ underperform homogenous teams with low CQ. However, diverse teams comprised of individuals with high CQ outperform homogenous teams on several measurements including innovation.

Therefore, CQ becomes the moderating link between diversity and innovation. With higher levels of cultural intelligence, team members can effectively retain and use the differences among them that enhance creativity while minimizing the differences that create interference.

 

“Distraction is one of the biggest roadblocks to innovation.” –David Livermore

 

Prevent Diversity Fatigue

What’s diversity fatigue and how do companies prevent it?

Diversity fatigue is how I refer to the growing weariness felt by many staff when they hear they have to go through diversity training. Even individuals from underrepresented groups often place little hope or interest in diversity initiatives in the workplace. Research recently cited in the Harvard Business Review found that diversity programs did little to convince ethnic minorities that companies would treat them any more fairly than companies without the programs.

 

“The culturally intelligent are aware of how cultural differences influence the way team members approach a task.” –David Livermore

 

There are a variety of factors that contribute to diversity fatigue, several of which I explore more fully at the beginning of Driven by Difference. But the key to addressing this is for companies to take a more strategic approach to diversity. They need to address diversity the way they address other business opportunities and challenges—assess the situation, create a strategy, and form metrics for measuring accountability. If profits are slipping, companies don’t plan a “Profits Slipping Awareness Day” and then hope the awareness translates into better returns. It’s all hands on deck with everyone accountable. And then managers and teams need to be equipped with the skills to effectively use their differences to drive innovation.

 

“Smart, empowered teams are the best way to come up with successful products.” –David Livermore

 

In one chapter, you talk about focus and how the more personalities and cultures you have working together, the easier it is to lose focus. What’s the best way to experience the benefits of diverse thinking while also keeping focus?

It comes from clearly defining the goal (a key to retaining focus) while asking your diverse colleagues how they understand the goal. The goal may seem straightforward, such as reducing costs or improving efficiencies. However, the assumptions about how to most effectively reduce cost may be strongly influenced by one’s cultural values and assumptions. Focus comes from not quickly moving beyond the seemingly basic task of clarifying expectations and instead, using a diversity of expectations to more successfully achieve more innovative outcomes.

 

“Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.” –Malcolm Forbes

 

How to Build Trust With Diverse Colleagues

How Companies Can Overcome the Pitfalls of Globalization

Overcome the Pitfalls of Globalization

Does your company have global aspirations?

How do you determine which countries to pursue and which to avoid?

 

When growth stalls, many managers decide that the answer to the slowing metrics is in going global. In many instances, managers don’t appreciate the inherent risks, miss the cultural nuances, and miscalculate the legal costs of the lofty goals globalization requires.

Robert Salomon is a professor of International Management and Faculty Scholar at NYU’s Stern School of Business and has been teaching and studying the effects of globalization for nearly 20 years. His new book, Global Vision: How Companies Can Overcome the Pitfalls of Globalization, is a guide to successfully navigating the global marketplace.

As the CEO of a global business myself, I was intrigued by the lessons in the book and reached out to Robert to share some of his findings with you.

 

The Problem of Unbridled Optimism

Global Vision . CoverIn your book, you say that one of the biggest problems with globalization is managers and their unbridled optimistic attitude. How does this increase risk?

The problem is that managers systematically overestimate the benefits of globalization and underestimate its costs. They tend to believe that globalization is relatively easy, and they therefore overlook the economic, political, and cultural risks involved.

Many people cite Thomas Friedman’s book “The World is Flat” as an urgent call toward globalization. What’s usually wrong with this thinking?

More and more research suggests that the world is less global than Friedman suggests, and not just by a little, but by a lot. And so if managers base their views of globalization on Friedman’s work, they will end up making very dangerous assumptions about globalization’s risks and challenges.

Why is overestimating market potential so prevalent?

It is prevalent because managers tend to think that consumers will respond to their company’s products similarly in every market. They therefore believe that they can simply port their existing business model to global markets with little change. In this respect, they fail to recognize the challenges that culture—in the form of different consumer cultures—can place on their business model.

 

Strategic Mistake: Porting existing business models to global markets with little change.

 

Understanding the Importance of Culture

Your research led you to the conclusion that “culture is probably the least understood.” Tell us more about the importance of culture and its role.

Culture is the least well understood of all of globalization’s challenges because culture is difficult to define and measure. Is culture about language differences? Yes. Is culture about religious differences? Yes. Is culture about differences in behaviors, norms, customs, and social structure? Yes. But even if we recognize these differences across countries, they are difficult to quantify and measure. Because culture is difficult to quantify and measure, managers end up discounting its effect on globalization. In my book, Global Vision, I discuss how culture impacts globalization and also how managers can quantify the impact of culture on global companies.

 

Culture is the least understood of the challenges of global expansion.

Does Your Organization Have The Right Attitude?

What’s Your Organizational Attitude?

What distinguishes great customer service?

Is your website easy to navigate?

Would customers describe the experience with your organization as amazing?

Some companies are leveraging the power of the Internet in such a powerful way they are increasing market share, earnings, and revenue at an incredible rate. Others are struggling, not fully realizing the potential or understanding what it takes to win with today’s technology.

 

“Net attitude is a state of mind.” –John Patrick

 

It’s All About Attitude

What differentiates winners from losers?

John Patrick’s answer is that it is all about attitude. He says companies with a “net attitude” have an extraordinary advantage over those who don’t.

Having a net attitude “makes constituents happy,” says John Patrick. Because your “website is your brand,” it’s important to make it accessible, easy to use, and focused relentlessly on a positive customer experience.

 

“The prescription starts with a single word, attitude.” –John Patrick

 

Beyond this, John indicates business vocabulary needs to change to adapt to a new mindset.

John believes we are only using about 10-15% of the power of the Internet. The potential represents an extraordinary opportunity ahead.

Money and scale are not enough. It takes the right attitude. And any entrepreneur or company who adopts a net attitude has a sustainable advantage that will propel them to greater success.

 

“Think big, act bold, start simple, and iterate fast.” –John Patrick

 

Copyright John Patrick, Used by Permission Copyright John Patrick, Used by Permission

Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want

Get the Life You Want

Do you have big goals, a plan of action, and the confidence you will achieve your dreams?

Do you daydream about success but don’t really think it’s possible for you?

Do you want to change a wish into a plan?

This week, my wife and I purchased a car. We spent hours researching models, checking safety features, and reading online reviews. After multiple test drives and visits to various dealerships, we finally settled on one she wanted. Then we spent hours more buying it and still more hours learning its various features.

 

“You get what you focus on.” –Daniel Harkavy

 

That’s the way it is when we make a big purchase. I’m sure it’s the same in your home. We do this when planning vacations, too, right? Reading online reviews, choosing hotels, and carefully picking flights or planning a drive. If you’re at the stage where you have a teenager picking a university, you may be experiencing the dizzying array of possibilities. All of it requires time, attention, and careful planning. Whether college, a car, a vacation, or a family event like a wedding, we take the time needed to plan it all out so that we have a memorable experience.

So let me ask you a question.

Do you spend that type of time planning your life?

It seems that many of us go through our lives, accepting what comes, and just “going with the flow.”

What if there was a better way?

 

“People lose their way when they lose their why.” –Michael Hyatt

 

Michael Hyatt has just written a book with Daniel Harkavy that will help you design the life you want.

Living ForwardMichael is the CEO of Intentional Leadership, an online leadership development company. He is the former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers and also the NYT bestselling author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. You may have heard his popular This is Your Life podcast.

Michael also is a close personal friend. He encouraged me to join Twitter and start blogging. I’ve watched him grow his business, but more importantly I’ve watched how he lives his life.

Which is why I am confident you will enjoy his newest book, Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want. Though I don’t know his co-author, Daniel Harkavy, I know he was Michael’s coach. His company, Building Champions, has helped many people get on track to accomplish their goals.

I recently asked Michael a few questions about the new book.

 

Design Your Life

What is a life plan?

A life plan is a brief document where you establish your personal priorities and articulate the steps you need to get from where you currently are to where you want to be. It’s a living document that you write yourself that gives you a view of your life.

 

“The man without purpose is like a ship without a rudder.” –Thomas Carlyle

 

Tell us about your own experience with Life Planning.

Daniel introduced it to me when he was my coach in the early 2000s. Before I created a Life Plan, I spent way too much time at work. That was one area where I did plan, where I was intentional, but I was really drifting in other areas of my life, including my health, family, community life, and everything else that is truly important to me. Life Planning has been transformational for me.

 

“There is no such thing as a compartmentalized life.” –Michael Hyatt

 

Begin With the End in Mind

How to Transform Your Culture To Stay Ahead

How to Transform Your Culture

In all of the organizations I have had the privilege to lead, I am always thinking and focusing on culture. Culture, to me, is important both at home and at work. It is the engine that either limits potential or sustains success.

 

“Transforming culture is the real leadership work.” –John Mattone

 

Cultural Transformations BookcoverToday it seems every forward-thinking company is focused on cultural reinvention. John Mattone and Nick Vaidya’s new book, Cultural Transformations: Lessons of Leadership and Corporate Reinvention was one that I read with great interest. Not only do the authors outline the imperative to continually transform corporate culture to stay ahead of the competition, but they also interview numerous corporate leaders to provide examples to lead the way.

John Mattone has been featured here before. He’s a leadership guru, a top-ranked CEO coach, and runs a top-ranked leadership blog. Whenever he contacts me, I know that I will learn something. I recently had the opportunity to talk with him about his latest work.

 

“The culture you create and reinforce will determine your success.” –John Mattone

 

Culture Change is Constant

When you talk about cultural transformation, what are you referring to?  Under what circumstances might a company look to transform its culture?

Always. The need to transform culture and ensure that you always have the culture in place to drive sustained operating success is a never-ending pursuit and business priority. A healthy, vibrant and mature culture will drive success and keep any organization “ahead of the curve.” So many factors are creating “disruption” in all sectors—digitization, globalization, and the need to operate at two-speeds (fast in emerging economies, slower in mature economies). Traditional differentiators like size, scope, legacy and market position are no longer differentiators. To stay ahead of the curve, CEO’s and senior teams must always be re-thinking, re-shaping, and reinventing their own purpose as well as the purpose of the enterprise. It is no longer about the company you want to create; it is now much more about the company that you must create.

Copyright John Mattone and Nick Vaidya; Used by Permission Copyright John Mattone and Nick Vaidya; Used by Permission

 

 

“The need to transform culture is a never-ending pursuit and business priority.” –John Mattone

 

 

Defining the Right Culture for You

How do you define what is the right culture for your organization?

You have to be passionate and diligent about measuring everything. This is the 6th step of my Cultural Transformation Model. Measuring operating metrics is part of it. Measuring the effectiveness of your talent systems, your engagement levels, and getting views from your customers and suppliers, and actually measuring what’s working and not working in your culture are all critical. Ultimately, it’s about leveraging your strengths and gifts—the positive legacy aspects of your business (and culture) and addressing the “gaps” and having a laser-focus discipline is what’s required. Sometimes, the C-level team determines based on this “world of feedback” that the company must become more innovative. This will then lead to strategies on how to recruit and select talent who possess the capability to be agile, nimble and innovative. Prescription before diagnosis is malpractice in medicine. However, I would say the same principle applies in the world of corporate reinvention and renewal.

Copyright John Mattone and Nick Vaidya; Used by Permission Copyright John Mattone and Nick Vaidya; Used by Permission

 

“A healthy, vibrant and mature culture will drive success.” –John Mattone

 

The Role of the Leader