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April 19, 2015

Diversity is not the goal

Diversity is not the goal

Diversity is not an end in itself. In a global, inter-cultural context, more often than not diversity is like table-stakes: it is not the end game, it is what we start with.

In a work setting, the goal is the goal, whatever that may be. The best way to achieve our goal is for our diverse team to work together in harmony to reach it.

However, some superficial views of "Diversity" would have each team member espouse their own personal purpose or agenda as loudly as possible. For many, that is their goal. They may feel that a "team" is just another forum for this.

But a team, by definition, has a purpose or agenda. A team has goals. Moreover, team members need to understand one another, trust one another, and operate together effectively in order to achieve their goals. That doesn't just happen. The fact that our teams are diverse does not guarantee success.

The fact that our teams are diverse doesn't have to be an insurmountable obstacle, either. In fact, it can be a real asset -- an asset beyond merely developing a sense of "inclusiveness", even.

Some would propose that the main way that diversity within teams can be an asset, is in its reflection of the world out there; that maybe their team's diversity reflects their client-base or audience, and that in and of itself is supposed to automatically impart a keen advantage to their team — as though they have a mini, built-in focus-group, for example. But in reality that advantage is often played as a justification to use their team as a forum for espousing personal views to a captive or trusting audience.

Rather, real advantages become apparent when we realize that not only are our individual team members unique human beings, but our teams are also unique. When working in harmony, our teams are a unique blend of personalities, worldviews, experiences, and skills. Thinking about how I can serve my team, rather than how my team can serve me, is often the key.

One way to capitalize on the unique nature of our teams, and to prime them for effectiveness and success, is to develop what we call a "third-culture". We create a cultural space for our team, in order to thrive both as individuals within our team and as a team. To assist in this process, we look at three distinct value structures ("colors of worldview") and 12 distinct dimensions of culture. We plot the whole team together on the same graphs, to see what that team's shared cultural space might look like.

Last modified on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 17:16

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