Scott Page makes this claim in his book, The Difference. Specifically, he demonstrates that if organizations want to develop the capacity required to solve the challenging problems faced during transformational change efforts, leaders need to build and support diverse teams and develop diverse perspectives within individuals.
While his book is a challenging read with many fascinating ideas I want to share just a few concepts that can help leaders build the infrastructure and develop people with the capacity to successfully create and sustain transformational change.
Page’s theory and research focuses on a concept titled cognitive diversity, or the differing perspectives, heuristics, predictive models and interpretations that individuals in an organization bring with them as they solve problems. This diversity is shown to facilitate better solutions and outcomes when groups need to solve complex problems, even though it can also lead to conflict or initial resistance.
Specific project management and change infrastructure tactics include:
- Seek out and include people with diverse experiences, backgrounds, perspectives and credentials on project teams
- Expose individuals to new experiences and opportunities to develop multiple perspectives
- Encourage fun and unusual ideas
- Add external perspectives to your teams for true diversity
- Develop interdisciplinary teams
Teams and individuals with diverse perspectives need support from sponsors and leaders to take risks and experiment. Initial ideas may not be predictable or familiar to decision-makers but with support they will lead to better solutions.
Encouraging curiosity and demonstrating a sense of wonder when new perspectives are shared will set the stage for solving the complex problems we face today.