Our research team really enjoyed Lucy Kellaway’s recent article in the FT about how the most diverse teams often end up descending into groupthink, remain at the level of banal exchange of business jargon rich platitudes and find it hard to make any decisions – let alone creative ones.
So, is this a death knell for diverse teams? We think that Lucy’s observations are thought-provoking and certainly reinforce Lynda’s research which shows that people find it easiest to collaborate with people they perceive as being similar to themselves. But what it tells us most of all is that creative collaboration in the context of a diverse group takes practise. Throw a group of smart people representing different cultures, genders and generations into a room and they will interact based on the lowest common denominator – business jargon – rather than nudging each other towards mind-blowing insights. Perhaps we need to change our perception of a diverse group – does it always have to be two women, two seniors, two bright young things, and two participants from other cultures? Or perhaps we need to offer training on how to collaborate effectively within a diverse group. What’s clear is that diverse groups are capable of achieving great things – but companies need to do more than simply bringing them together to empower such greatness.