Collaboration – Most products we purchase today are made possible by the collaboration of people everywhere in our globalized world. And even within companies and organizations today, we find different ethnic or cultural backgrounds. How can that diversity inspire and enrich work?
Diversity is challenging, but it brings opportunities to tap into the potential each human being has to offer.
Power and control – With their hierarchies, standardization, norms, and policy handbooks, power and control underpin our whole way of thinking about business. Homogenized practices were useful for mass production, but they can stifle innovation in today’s work culture. One example: the silo mentality can lead to fragmentation within a company, like the separation of research and development from the production process. How much gets lost or wasted in between?
A greater purpose – Why would business expect everybody to pull in the same direction? Companies can engage the identity and cultural background of each person, like the weave and weft of a rich tapestry, to contribute to a greater purpose.
Easy? No. It requires managers to let go of their attachment to their own perspective. They are asked to see equal validity in the huge variety of views of their colleagues and employees and to embrace diversity. Cross-fertilization among all the unique individuals inspires creatives, allows respect for others, and motivates people to identify and work towards a common goal.
It begins with dialogue
Listening. Understanding what is being said—and what is stifled. Each person speaking up for yourself to freely express that which you truly believe in. Being recognized and validated for who you are. Recognizing the other for who they are. Validating the other for being different.
Managers can free themselves of “being in charge of everything,” and employees can grasp an opportunity to make their unique contribution to the organization instead of behaving like “a small cog in a big wheel.”
Democracy should not mean the leveling of everyone to the lowest common denominator. It should mean the possibility of everyone being able to raise himself to a certain level of excellence. – James Baldwin