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Does diversity lead to innovation?

3rd Nov 2015

EVENT: 1900hrs // Wednesday, 18 November

DOES DIVERSITY LEAD TO INNOVATION?

The conversation around diversity is becoming louder and louder. However, it still makes people uncomfortable as it forces us to question our biases and how we view ourselves in the context of social systems. In many cases conversation on diversity lead to arguments, especially where the issue is reduced to race and gender.

However diversity is much more complex than ensuring you have an equal amounts of a specific demographic. It is about orchestrating the right levels of perspective, cultures, and intellects to create one well syncopated idea. The idea of diversity of course is not new, it has existed for millions of years, in nature biology has taught us that homogeneity leads to a shallow gene pool, which can cause genetic and developmental difficulties. The same is the case in innovation; a homogeneous group of people can only lead to ill developed and weak ideas.

From a cognitive perspective, when we collide with people that are different from us, being culturally, age, industry or socially we are forced to see the world from a completely different set cognitive processes. This requires cognitive flexibility as being able to switch your ideas and see them from the perspective of someone is can be challenging. Especially if they present a threat to thought or idea you consider is a “truth”. We form our world based on our experiences and genetics, therefore each one of us is going to have a completely different sense of the world, which is the core reason we find it so hard to combine and interact with vastly diverse groups. However, once we get passed this initial challenge working within a diverse group can lead to many new ideas. As the new perspectives are creating new ways to think, new metaphors, new associations and new mental pathways. All key ingredients in generating truly new ideas.

For this Brainplay we thought it is worth discussing how to curate and take advantage of diverse groups. We will be joined by people from many industries (fashion, politics, marketing, design) as well as social scientists who can shed some light on the social and cognitive aspects of diversity.