[SSB#8] Diversity, how true success comes from tapping into our differences
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Welcome to the 8th edition of my newsletter "Supersonic Business", a fortnightly publication by me, Laura Landmark, with a focus on business growth, value and performance management, in other words, all things that make a business better.
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Sandnes, Norway, Saturday morning, 26th October 2019 🌦️
"Supersonic Business" is sent from me, a Management Accountant, to other Accountants, Finance Business Partners, CFO's, CEO's & those that have a leading position in business. The vision for the newsletter to share information, tips and tricks to build healthy, thriving businesses from the 'inside out', it is written from the finance and administration perspective.
I hope you enjoy [SSB#8], write to me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any feedback or questions.
Good morning world!
I recently had the opportunity to attend a seminar with a specific group of seemingly non-diverse people.
These people are in business, relatively close in age, a good mix of male and female, and a gentle scattering of different nationalities, mostly Norwegian, but a few other Europeans. No one from further afield.
So the group looked pretty homogenous and functioned very much as expected, like a herd. However, there was one person that stood out. She gave a lot of controversial input, and certainly shook up the status quo in the group.
As an observer, it was sort of funny to watch, you could see some people literally squirming in their seats when she piped up with one of her objections or observations, whereas others took it lightly and celebrated her alternative opinion.
The positive thing was, like it or not, it shifted the discussions up a notch to address deep underlying themes that might not have surfaced otherwise.
So what could have felt like an irritation for many in the herd, was actually a blessing, and it got me thinking, why is she the only one? Why is there so often only one or two that are willing to say what they really think?
It reminded me of that legendary marshmallow experiment where a bunch of CEOs, lawyers and MBA students were pitched against a group of pre-schoolers in a spaghetti/marshmallow tower building experiment.
The kids won by a mile, as instead of worrying about all the unspoken rules and protocols of the group, they just got on and built. They tried, failed, tested and tried again, their towers might not have been elegant, but they were a lot taller, so they won.
This is whilst the adults spent a lot of time looking like they were cooperating, they were planning, speaking, organizing, but the underlying focus was on jockeying for power, or at least establishing one's position in the group, and certainly not to break the rules of the newly established team.
The kids just got on with it, they played and enjoyed themselves. They prototyped, they iterated, they spoke up without fear, and they couldn't give two hoots who was CEO of Spaghetti Enterprise Inc. I heard someone else explain about this infamous experiment, that the level of security you feel in a group has a lot to say about how much you are willing to speak up.
On a similar note, my dad told me about CRM (crew resource management) in the airline industry just before he died, when we were discussing the Paris Concorde airline crash (my dad having been a Senior Engineer Officer for 9 years on Concorde before he retired).
CRM is a set of training procedures that focuses on interpersonal relationships, communication, and leadership on the flight deck. As far as I know, it is the only industry-wide standard on how to address and maximize our humanness in teams. In the airline industry, it improves both safety and team performance.
CRM does this by eliminating the ego on the flight deck, it abolishes "the great man theory" which is still very prevalent in industry and commerce, and instead gives everyone the right and obligation to express their opinion and concerns. Failure to do so can be catastrophic.
So let's embrace the difference between us, and lets perfect the art of thinking differently, together, and speaking up!.
There are some great articles below that all show the benefit of mixing up your groups, lowering the barriers for variety and positively welcoming uniqueness in whatever shape or form that might take, gender, age, race, social standing, or difference of opinion.
Go for it! Mix it all up and reap the rewards. Needless to say, diversity is the topic of today's newsletter.
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10 Benefits of diversity in the workplace
This article highlights 10 great reasons why diversity is a must in the modern workplace for long term survival. It is not just a case of a fluffy, "let's all be the inclusive" type of attitude, there are actual tangible gains in creating diverse workplaces.
Companies with more diversity generally outperform competitors and achieve higher profits, simple as that! It is no longer an HR initiative but should be a major company goal.
Read the full article here
How diverse teams produce better outcomes
Diversity in teams such as gender, race, age, and socioeconomic status is a winning ingredient when it comes to problem solving and creativity.
When you put a mix of people into the melting pot to come up with solutions or to solve complex problems, there are powerful results. At the very least, the chance of error is significantly reduced when you get a range of experience and opinions working together towards a common goal.
“fund a bunch of smaller and largely disconnected efforts to improve the likelihood of major, path breaking success.” Professer James Evans
Read the full article here
Diversity is the superhero with the invisible cape
Diversity is becoming a boardroom priority. Top-level executives are recognizing the value of creating diverse teams to foster a winning business.
Diverse teams are able to build better relationships with a broader range of customers, they are able to more easily branch out globally.
Including younger generations in senior teams also aids innovation and business transformation.
Read the full article here
How to build a business that lasts 100 years - TEDx
The probability that your company will not be around in 5 years time is 33%. That's a staggering one in three chance of oblivion. Some stats say its as high as 50% failing in the first 5 years, either way, its very high.
Martin Reeves turns to nature and biology and throws an interesting perspective on how natural systems are resilient and enduring, and how the 6 principles of biological systems, as well as social systems, can be applied to business for longevity.
Diversity is one of the 6 principles of a biological system, working in perfect harmony with the other underlying principles such as prudence and adaptation you create a truly robust organism.
The first thing we need to do is to think differently about business, to move away from pure mechanical thinking and short-termism. We are no longer in the 1980s, the short term unsophisticated thinking that was good enough then will not work anymore.
"What do we need to do to make sure our company will last 100 years"
Alignment between diversity initiatives and strategy is the key to success
This article shows that diversity if managed properly from the top can have significant benefits on the bottom line, reputation and employee retention. There are significant gains in creating a diverse and inclusive culture. But this means that diversity initiatives need to be aligned with strategy and driven by senior management.
"It has long been understood that strategic D&I alignment requires organizational commitment from the top," said Gail Heimann
This is so important, as we are in an age where competition for the best talent is high and culture has a huge role to play in which organizations those sought after employees will opt into. This study is based on major corporations, but I think SME's also have a lot to gain from creating a diverse culture.
Read the full article here
Did you know?
Creating truly successful diverse teams is hard!.
The articles above highlight all the good reasons to create diverse teams but let's not overlook the elephant in the room, this is not always easy.
We are naturally drawn to hiring people who are 'just like us', and if we do manage to get over our inherent biases and create a diverse team, it is important that diversity is accompanied by inclusion. That means making a conscious effort to make sure people feel welcome and included.
Allan Willie writes a great article on the difficulties around actually creating a diverse workplace.
"Accept that you will struggle, and that the struggle will be more or less ongoing. Accept that you yourself will have to change. Accept, also, that it’s worth it.
Because a diverse and inclusive company, a company that allows employees to be themselves, will be able to channel its commitment and its collective creativity to grow and prosper." Alan Willie CIO Klipfolio
Read the article here.
Words of wisdom
Books on the bedside table this week.
I have just started this book, but so far so good. He is reminding us that growth for the sake of growth is rarely a good idea. That focus on your key strengths creates much more value in the long run, even if you end up with a smaller company.
I am looking forward to reading more.
Top Tip -
Nature does diversity just perfectly
Wildflowers grow side by side, they complement each other and make the field a beautiful place.
"The earth laughs in flowers" Ralph Waldo Emersen, American philosopher.
Always end with a thanks!
🙏Thanks again to Sigvald Bøe Eriksen for being a true ambassador for my blog. Anyone living locally, wanting to treat their customers or employees to a gift that is as lovely to give, as it is to receive, be sure to contact Sigvald, or visit his lovely olive oil shops Oliviers & Co
Something to watch
Have a peek at my lastest videos where I talk to Kenneth Flaglien of Visma software about the purchase to pay process. (parts 1 & 2)
Thanks for reading & see you next time
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