Diversity a untapped potential

Article Number 38 :

” Effective work is actually done in and by team of people of diverse knowledge and skills” by Peter Drucker

Diverse teams generally outperform teams of high ability people. Let me explain this with an example, a successful cricket team would be a good example for diversity, if we stack the team with 11 batsman (same tool box), you would not be very successful. To create a good team you require diversity, combination of batsman, bowlers, all-rounders and good fielders. The same should apply while creating any team. The more diverse the tool box in a team, the more diverse perspective, resulting in to a quality output

A team is actually a collection of tool box. A person capability is determined by the tool he possesses. Our toolbox differentiates us: any two people are likely to have different toolboxes. One person may be good at statistics, other person may be good at economics. So both of them if they work on sales forecasting problem would give a different perspective, rather than 2 statisticians working on the same problem.

A successful team is defined by what unique toolbox each member of the team has. Our toolbox define us, constrain us, and guide us.

Companies or team which do not take advantage miss out on the potential gain. Collaboration over the years have become more and more important. Have you ever wondered less and less often we read of solitary scientist making a breakthrough? It’s not that we lack the smart people. To the contrary, it is claimed that we lack a current Einstein like genius because we have too many smart people. Other reason, problems have become harder, that research projects have become larger and collaboration has become easier. The evidence is quite compelling. From 1901 to 1910 fourteen people shared the Nobel Prize in physics. From 1995 to 2014 exactly twice as many people were awarded the prize. The same phenomenon has occurred in chemistry.

When the going gets tough, even the best and the brightest rely on others.

People who live in more diverse geographic areas and interact with people in other regions also reap benefits from diversity. Telephone calling pattern reveal that interaction with different geographic regions, or social network diversity, is associated with greater economic prosperity in a community. Similarity correlational evidence indicates that U.S. cities with a greater share of foreign born inhabitants are more financially solid

President of America

We should not expect diversity to translate into 20 percent increase in performance, that would be nice but it won’t happen. Even the computer didn’t do that, nor did the car. In an organization or an economy 2 to 5 percent increase in productivity would be cause of celebration. Any gain from diversity will be small however we shouldn’t expect these to be just one time benefits. If diversity improves problem solving this year it should also do it next year. Thus we are talking about permanent shift in productivity.If diversity improves performance by 5% then we’re looking at doubling the productivity in less than 15 years.

Despite the compelling evidence, diversity often fails to take hold for the simple reason that homogeneous team can feel more effective. We all tend to seek out comfort and familiarity, and this often translates in to choosing to work with those who are like us. The member of homogeneous teams easily and readily understand one another and collaboration on such teams flow smoothly, creating a feeling of good progress. Dealing with outsiders generates disagreement and frictions, which naturally does not feel productive.

Research has shown evidence that working in a diverse group was uncomfortable but the outcomes were better. In fact contrary to our intuition, greater diversity produces better outcomes exactly because it is harder to work among a mix of perspective. We are forced to consider range of viewpoints. Part of the reason we associate homogeneity with greater performance is our preference for information we can process easily. Easy to digest information seems truer or more beautiful, which explains why we often appreciate sing and art work more as they become familiar .

In general people who anticipate joining diverse group are more through in their preparation, the simple fact of diversity promotes better preparation, more creativity and deeper thinking by encouraging us to consider a range of viewpoints. We may not enjoy the decision making process as much because of the greater effort required.

We live in the diverse society and seeking homogeneity would not help you to reach optimum solution. Good organizations or for that matter good schools realize this and for years diversity has been an important parameter. In an ideal scenario organization should be as diversified as the society. Decision making becomes richer when there are diverse perspective thus organization should work out structures which would encourage perspective good or bad.  We should recognize that talent “I” and talent “they” can come and even more talented “We”.


The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies – New Edition Book by Scott E. Page.

Leadership: in turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Disclaimer: Ideas, views and opinions expressed in the article represent my own views in my private capacity and not those of any of my current or previous employer, any institutions. The article is a research work based only the limited, dated and open source information. For the sources the statements have been quoted with the authors name. This article is only for the reading pleasure and while I invite the feedback and comments on the article, I will not be responsible or liable to any such comments as the same belong to the responder.

One Comments

  • Manoj

    July 5, 2020

    Nice.good concept on expectation from diversity…


Leave a Reply to Manoj Cancel reply