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While diversity of thought is still a relatively new approach to realising untapped potential in the workplace, research already published by Deloitte University Press (referred to in Chapter 2) provides evidence that it really can stimulate innovation.
1. Developments in neurology and cognitive science have shown that different people do have different thinking strengths. At one level we understand it instinctively. We all know that while some people are naturally good at maths, others are almost proud of being innumerate. And while some people approach problems in a structured and analytical way, others rely on creative insight, spontaneity and flashes of inspiration.
2. Layer on top of that all the cultural factors that shape the ways in which we see, and respond to, the world around us and it’s easy to understand why imposing – whether consciously or unconsciously – a particular way of thinking across an organisation is guaranteed to shut the door on a range of potentially valuable ideas.
3. The critical point is that encouraging diversity of thought can encourage innovation by creating an environment where outside-the-box thoughts are actually heard and considered seriously. Some, possibly many, of those ideas will prove to be unworkable for one reason or another. But others could prove to be highly profitable.
And they will only ever come to fruition if everyone feels included; if everyone feels there is a senior manager they can go to who will be willing to support them – even if the idea is way outside the protocols of an existing groupthink.