Putting Cognitive Diversity to Work

By Guy Higgins

I’ve discussed cognitive diversity several times, addressing some of the factors that contribute to it and the potential for it to yield superior decisions and insights. I’ve discussed how easily the cognitive diversity of a group can be impaired or even destroyed, but I haven’t talked about how to actually take advantage of it.

Today, I’m going to try to provide one way to do that – to put cognitive diversity to work.

But first, a little background on how I came to this approach… Continue reading

Innovation, Diversity and Disruption

By Guy Higgins

There continues to be a laser-like focus on innovation in every imaginable market with the possible exception of antiques. Most of that focus is on technological innovation, but equally fertile opportunities exist in the fields of business models (think about how the iTunes model completely reshaped the music business) and organizational models with the Morning Star (the tomato processing company, not the financial company) manager-less structure supporting double-digit revenue growth for many years.

The topic that seems to be at the top of many (if not all) lists is, “How do we continue to innovate?” In greater detail, that question becomes: Continue reading

Doctor Martin Luther King Day – a Prospective

By Guy Higgins

Today, we honor the memory and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King. Almost fifty-three years ago, Dr. King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and gave his I Have a Dream speech. If you haven’t listened to it or read it, I urge you to do so. You can find it here. The speech is certainly stirring, and Dr. King spoke of many injustices that needed to be righted. Many of those injustices have, for many people, been righted, but it is still a work in progress. However, I want to focus on one very small (albeit oft quoted) part of that speech.

Dr. King proclaimed, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Continue reading

Diversity in the Workplace

By Guy Higgins

important information. The post is titled Workplace Diversity Policies ‘Don’t Help. Mr. Moyer references a study done by Tessa L. Dover, Cheryl R. Kaiser and Brenda Major in which they conclude that in terms of increasing “demographic diversity”… corporate diversity policies don’t increase the representation of minorities and women (i.e. they don’t work). They also conclude that such policies may be counterproductive in that they can, “1) blind white men to racism and sexism at work and 2) lead to resentment.” In the first case, if the organization has implemented a diversity policy, then “the problem is solved,” and I, as a leader, don’t have to focus on diversity. In the second case, adhering to diversity policies may result in the perception (and sometimes the reality) that less qualified people have been hired or promoted because of their demographic identity, it should come as no surprise that the policies may be creating resentment and are proving to be ineffective. Continue reading

Tapping into the Other Half of the Workforce …

By Guy Higgins

On January 30th, I had the good fortune of being able to attend an evening with Neil deGrasse Tyson. Doctor Tyson is an astrophysicist and the Director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York. He is also a successful advocate and “popularizer” of science literacy. He was also the host of the recent Cosmos television series. His talk, including questions and answers, ran three hours and not a second was dull. Continue reading

Compromise, Consensus or…

By Guy Higgins

The boss gets a call from one of his direct reports.  “Boss, Jill and I are at loggerheads with the folks in Finance.  We’ve been working with them on financing for new-product development and we haven’t made any progress, and it doesn’t seem like we’re going to make any progress.  We’d like to work through this with you.”

Now, you’re the boss.  Since Ghostbusters aren’t available, who ya gonna call?  What are you going to do? Continue reading

Pessimism is Important

I’ve posted about cognitive diversity before, and I’ve posted about temperamental diversity (extroverts and introverts).  I think that it is also important to include optimists and pessimists on a team.

No one ever has any trouble including optimists – they’re out there, bright and sunny, always seeing the bright side of things and explaining how “whatever” is going to come out right.

No one ever likes having a pessimist on the team because they are always looking at the down side and saying things like, “You know that the schedule you just proposed requires you to complete 15,000 hours of work next week, and you only have two people (while the optimist is saying, “No problem, we won’t take coffee breaks”). Continue reading

Another Dimension of Diversity

By Guy Higgins

As I was entering an establishment recently, I was assaulted by the enthusiastic “Greeter.”  I use the word “assaulted” intentionally and with malice.  This person apparently felt that it was their job to shake hands with every person entering the building and babble some upbeat nonsense.  There is nothing inherently wrong with greeters, and many people feel valued when someone says, “Hi” when they enter a store or other establishment.  But, some of us (devout introverts that we are) do not, and that experience prompted me to create this post.

In previous posts, I have talked about two different kinds of diversity – Identity and Cognitive.  But, I am now thinking there is a third dimension to diversity. Continue reading

Pessimists – Important Team Members

By Guy Higgins

Last week, I posted about the tendency of leadership (teams and individuals) to continue successful behaviors – even after those behaviors begin to become ineffective and unsuccessful.  I closed by asking what companies could do to avoid the “self-correcting” feature of successful behaviors – how to sense and adapt to shifts in the environment/ecosystem/market/society.

Well, I’ve often included some discussion of various aspects of cognitive diversity in my posts – just a warning, this is another one.

Every organization needs a pessimist at the leadership level.  Even a one-person show needs to have a pessimist hat that can be put on at decision time.  I’m not talking about the pessimism of A.A. Milne’s character, Eeyore.  I’m talking about the person who always sees that the glass is half empty.  Why is this kind of pessimism important? Continue reading

… Before Its Time

By Guy Higgins

A long time ago, when the earth was green, Orson Welles made a series of commercials for a wine company.  Every commercial ended with Welles saying, “We will sell no wine before its time.”  Obviously, the point there was that the company would invest the time to ensure that the wine aged appropriately (and for some of us in our younger days, that would have been, say, twenty minutes).

So what does that have to do with business (other than the wine business)?  Actually, I think that it has an enormous amount to do with business.  The saying in real estate is that there are three things that are important – location, location and location.  Well, I’ll assert that three of the most important factors in business are timing, timing and timing.  When does a decision need to be made?  When should a new product be introduced?  When should an acquisition be initiated?  When should a company “double down” on an investment?  When should a company exercise its exit strategy? Continue reading