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Flying Seraph

To Make Diversity Work, You Need Design Thinking

Ever been in a workshop where people spot a ‘stranger’ in the group. In their demeanour you know exactly what those people are thinking:

Who are they? What could they possibly know about our issue/business? How can they be of any use?

Yet, we all know how powerful diversity can be. How hard it is to break out of today’s pattern of thinking when all the people in the room are identical.

Even a group of clones of an exceptionally bright person is still terribly one-dimensional. I grant you, there will be a range of issues they’ll solve brilliantly.

But – as a group – they’re totally inept when confronted by something very different or by the need to conjure up something very different.

And that’s one major reason why you need a diverse group of people. With diverse thinking styles – all mashed together.

Diversity, you see, is an Intellect Multiplier.

But only when the diverse group collaborates well.

The more we specialise – and diverge – the more we seem to build walls around ourselves. Walls built of set thinking patterns, set beliefs, and impenetrable jargon.

The good folk at Stanford’s explain Design Thinking in a way that captures one of its primary features brilliantly: they talk about it as ‘a common language that helps diverse groups come together and collaborate’.


The education system drums our belief in ourselves as creative thinkers out of us. So many of us think that we can only make leaps in ‘our’ fields of expertise.

Invited onto someone else’s turf we’re intimidated. We close down. We (and they) feel we can’t possibly contribute.

Beyond it’s empathetic process, Design Thinking unifies. Conducted well, it permits wildly divergent groups to nudge one another to a better place.

If you’re unfamiliar with it, don’t worry. There is so much online. Including most of Stanford’s materials – generously made available at no cost.

It’s not the kind of discipline you have to be (overly) trained in to have a go.

Follow the, read a bit, watch some Youtube tutorials on the topic, perhaps enrol in an OpenIDEO program.

Then simply “take action” – Stanford’s war cry – you and the disparate gang you’ve assembled. Very soon, the strangers won’t seem strange.

Mashed-up together, you’ll make magic.

Please follow me on Twitter: @MarkSareff

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