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Why Operational Diversity is a Critical Part of a Fulfilling Workplace

diversity diversity and inclusion hiring leadership talent optimization talent strategy team development Jun 01, 2023
A diverse group of professionals who represent different methods of problem solving

Diversity in the workplace is a crucial and widely discussed topic that deserves our attention. It is essential to have representation from individuals of different races, religions, genders, ages, educational backgrounds, and capabilities in order to benefit everyone in the workforce.

However, despite the considerable emphasis placed on this subject, there is one critical aspect of diversity in the workplace that often goes unnoticed—operational diversity.


An Eye-Opening Experience

Allow me to share an experience we had with a well-established and reputable firm a few years ago. On the surface, their leadership team appeared diverse, representing various ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, and job titles. Yet, this team consistently failed to accomplish anything of substance. They were notorious for their inaction. Instead of making decisions, they focused excessively on gathering facts. They were so risk-averse that they avoided taking chances or challenging the status quo. Consequently, the team, despite being highly paid and responsible for leading a global organization, remained perpetually stagnant.


The Importance of Problem-Solving Diversity

The root cause of this team's ineffectiveness was a lack of diversity in problem-solving methods. Having too much of a good thing can actually be detrimental. In this case, the team had an overabundance of researchers and stabilizers, but lacked individuals who could simplify or explain things, as well as those who could introduce innovation or make modifications.


The Pitfall of a Monolithic Approach

A team that adheres to a single approach is bound to become inert and unproductive. If your teams are stuck in a rut, it's highly likely that you are also suffering from a deficiency in operational diversity.



To determine whether your team is facing this issue, take a moment to honestly consider the following questions:

1. Do team members usually agree with one another?
2. Are managers inclined to hire individuals who think and work exactly like them?
3. Are you struggling to make progress towards your goals?
4. Do team members occasionally step outside their comfort zones?
5. Are alternative approaches acknowledged and rewarded?
6. Is there freedom in how tasks are accomplished?
7. Is there someone playing the role of a devil's advocate?

If you answered "yes" to the first three questions and "no" to the last four, it is evident that your team is lacking diversity. This imbalance in problem-solving approaches is hampering your organization, even if the consequences aren't immediately apparent. The cumulative effect of having a team that operates in a cloned manner is stagnation.


Seeking Operational Diversity

So, how can we actively pursue operational diversity in the workplace?

It starts with the hiring process. Train your staff to be aware of their inclination to hire individuals who think like them and encourage them to seek out candidates who offer a complementary approach.

Additionally, utilize objective measures. The Kolbe A™ Index is an invaluable tool for assessing a person's natural problem-solving method. It should not be confused with intelligence or personality assessments, as it measures distinct aspects of the mind. Understanding the striving instincts of your team members through the Kolbe A™ Index will provide valuable insights for creating synergy within your organization.

Lastly, foster a culture that embraces operational diversity. Recognize and praise those who act as devil's advocates. Provide training to challenge traditional methods and encourage your team to seek alternative ways of achieving the same results.


Key Takeaways

Diversity in the workplace goes beyond surface-level demographics. Operational diversity, encompassing a variety of problem-solving approaches, is equally essential. In fact, maintaining a competitive organization is impossible without it.

If you're unsure about where to begin in achieving operational diversity, we are here to assist you. As experts in coordinating synergistic and high-performing teams, we can guide you through the process.


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