In a fast-changing world, where the ability to innovate is recognized as the main competitive edge, companies need to come up with new ideas, quickly, in order to not fall behind their competitors. However, goodwill and motivation alone do not produce creativity and innovation, but leaders need to actively create situations where their “competitive edge” can be created.
So what are those situations and how can you as a leader create them?
As the entrepreneur, Frans Johansson made clear in his bestselling book “The Medici Effect”, Innovation happens at the intersection. This means that innovation arises when ideas and disciplines cross. In other words, a team consisting of many different-minded people is better able to develop new ideas. And studies back up that claim by showing that diverse teams are more creative and innovative.
That means that it is in your best interest to diversify your teams if your innovation process is lacking behind.
Diversifying your teams means including people from different cultures, different disciplines, beliefs, sexual orientations, gender, ages, ethnicities and physical abilities. Connecting those different minds create situations of innovation that you would not get with a homogeneous team. Plus, diversity is not only good for your business it also creates a fairer company culture and is socially more inclusive.
The creative process exemplified by the multicultural mind
Individuals with multicultural experiences are a good example of how the process of creativity works. Individuals, who have experience in adapting themselves to new environments – be it through immigration, studies abroad, or work-related relocation – are also experienced in taking on different perspectives. And that skill is crucial when it comes to creativity. The ability to consider and combine different points of view enhances the chance to produce something completely new.
In a nutshell, start creating teams that have different backgrounds, different life stories, and different experiences. Their abilities to mix and match ideas that already exist will create ideas that have not seen the light of day yet.
The same counts for people with different functional backgrounds. Creating teams with a wide range of functions will create situations of fresh perspectives and new insights. Getting as many ideas as possible on the table and intersecting them with each other will lead to disruptive ideas and innovation.
No one said it’s going to be easy
Working with people of different backgrounds, cultures and different areas of expertise is not going to be easy. There will be misunderstanding and there will be conflict. But the right combination of people and the right balance between confrontation and unity will produce the ideas and products that your organization needs to stay competitive in an economy that is dominated by globalization.
As much as working with diverse teams can be difficult, the benefits that you gain are worth the effort.
Creativity blooms when people from different disciplines and cultures come together.