Embrace diversity, breed new thinking, collaborate, allow the crazy ideas to breathe and create those often insane divergent moments because this is the only way we are ever going to create the future we dream of right here and now before it becomes a present that passes us by.
I know I am not the only person who has the words “Why” running round and round my head in constant rotation since this weekend’s tragedies.
It’s almost as if the repeat button is stuck well and truly on and the only way to stop the constant questioning is a total system re-boot. I certainly do not purport to be any kind of expert on said matters, nor am I in a position to comment from a place of fully understanding all facets of the argument, but what I am is a human being, with thoughts, feelings, opinions and a curiosity that asks ‘why?‘.
And whilst I admit to not having the answers, what I do know to be true is this:
Diversity of thinking, of opinion, of ideas, of solutionising – this is the competitive advantage of the future but only, and only if, we jump in with both feet and welcome with open arms the possibility of opportunity that may be created.
The barriers between genders, between generations, between cultures, between the inventors and the investors, between the change makers, the visionaries and those that make it happen — these all have to be broken down. It’s not about gender and yet it is. It’s not about age and yet it is. It’s not about education, religious beliefs or even colour of skin and yet it is – because difference of opinion, diversity of thought and expression is the new competitive advantage. Engaging with others to work collaboratively drives collective intelligence. The result for business? We are able to react quicker, increase the speed to market, become more agile and fluid and ultimately drive innovation, growth and profit.
Only the other week I was having a chat with a local teacher. The debate regarding co-education versus single sex schooling eventuated and the teacher shared a classroom discussion with me. The students had been asked to create a mock trial of Lady Macbeth using selected text from Shakespeare to support their arguments – was she guilty or not guilty? The arguments presented between the boy groups and the girl groups were very different in their angle and justification and whilst this isn’t a debate about who was right or wrong the teacher said “Imagine if we hadn’t had the chance to hear a side of the argument from a different perspective”.
Imagine if we didn’t open our ears and eyes to other opinions and thoughts? Imagine if we weren’t brave enough to engage in active listening and debate and instead erected a virtual barrier between our own thoughts and beliefs and those of others?
The reality is that not one of us alone has the answers.
When we work together we are smarter together.
When we work together we find new solutions to existing problems.
When we work together we ideate, we innovate, we debate, we create, we disagree, we agree.
There are no clear-cut answers – only informed judgment. If we are to create organisations, cultures and communities that we all want to be part of, we have to face our sometimes unknown and unconscious biases head on. We have to push past these to move forward because the opposite where we sit comfortably in our closed opinions with no room for growth, flex or change – well it is, quite simply, a dangerous place to be.
It’s time to actively listen and collaborate to feed the ideation machine. It’s time to tap in to diversity and the thinking that brings. It’s time to question existing assumptions and create the platform to not shut down ideas but rather allow them to flourish. It’s time to allow crazy ideas to take a first breath with a view to potentially breathing further life in to them.
There is no doubt evolution in society is driving change and bringing new thinking, insight and solutions to existing problems. Ignore the diversity of opinion at your peril because all of us – women, men, generations, business leaders and society overall – need to lean out, to support each other wholeheartedly through networks, both personal and professional.
We have to embrace the opportunity that exists when we builds diverse teams, create the freedom to discuss, debate and ideate, where the strength of individual thought leadership, skills, expertise and experience can be reinforced through working together.[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”@janinemgarner” suffix=””]Creating divergent moments needs all of US. Togetherness really can and does create the momentum of change.[/inlinetweet]