Deliberate Diversity

A new approach to Team Performance

Deliberate Diversity™ ™ is a management discipline with a purpose, a process and a payoff. It is where diversity and management skills intersect and is designed to produce better business results.

The purpose of Deliberate Diversity™ ™ is to get the best from all kinds of people to achieve better results.
The process of Deliberate Diversity™ follows a disciplined Seven-Step approach.
The payoff for Deliberate Diversity™ is more efficiency, effectiveness, and execution (actual performance improvement) that contributes to increased revenue and cost reduction (tangible business results).

Deliberate Diversity™ has been shown to be an essential element  for :

Quality decision making
Breakthrough innovation
Productive Ideation
Problem solving
High performance teaming

As you will see, Deliberate Diversity™ is not hard to do. In fact, it includes things you may be already doing or can learn to practice quickly. Deliberate Diversity™ answers a long-standing question about diversity management. That question is: “What do we do? (now that we are aware, sensitive, and diversity mature). It is the next level of diversity work.

Steps of Deliberate Diversity™ Discipline

Let’s review Deliberate Diversity™ in more depth.  In simple terms, it is a management discipline to get the best out of people to achieve better business results.  There are seven (7) logical steps to Deliberate Diversity™ Discipline, which combine clear purpose, a simple process and practical skills.
  1. The Discipline begins with Strategic Thinking. Before launching into a Deliberate Diversity™ process, you need to ask and answer some key questions: Since this is a strategy, you first need to decide if it is worth the effort to do anything differently. Do nothing is always the first option of any strategic plan. Other questions include:
    1. What is the potential payoff?
    2. What happens if we do nothing?
    3. What are we hoping will happen?
    4. Why are we doing this?
    5. How disruptive will a change be?
    6. How will we know if it works?
    7. Is it sustainable?
The Deliberate Diversity™ Discipline is not the best approach to use for every workplace challenge.  A situational cost/benefit analysis needs to be applied to all opportunities.

By reviewing the Pay-Off Matrix on last page, you can see that in certain situations introducing a disciplined seven step process may not be worth the time and effort.
  1. The most critical element of Deliberate Diversity™ is Radical Selection, the second step. It is based on the premise that the right diversity (perspective) makes any problem easy. The idea is to seed the project team with a wide range of perspectives to increase the likelihood of breakthrough thinking. That means inviting people from a range of functions inside the company and (the radical part) inviting at least 50% of the team from outside the company. As always, there are degrees of “Radical’ to consider depending on the importance of the decision and the need for breakthrough versus incremental innovation. It is also possible to use resource people (outsiders) to solve a portion of the problem while using the inside team to coordinate. The intent of radical selection is to increase the range of “possibilities” for solving the problem or making quality decisions.
  1. The third step is Transparent Formation. A Deliberate Diversity™ project team is unique. It is made up of persons with broadly differing perspectives, opinions, and motives. In addition, the rules of Deliberate Diversity™ suggest that each member has equal weight on the team. That combination can produce a great deal of disagreement, tension, and conflict. It can be messy. Therefore the team leader must be transparent about the expectations of the team’s dynamics. Members should not expect a smooth, amicable, polite, agreeable experience. It is important that they know this upfront so they are not surprised when their “brilliant idea” falls flat or when others put forth “stupid” ideas. Most team dysfunction occurs because people are surprised by the nature of the interactions. This is a quick hit step. It takes less than ten minutes to explain and at most a two minute reminder at each subsequent meeting. However, it can mean the difference between success and failure.
Also be clear that you will also be using skilled facilitators to make the process work more successfully.  It is important to position Deliberate Diversity™ as a discipline with a process and skills that the group will get better at as the project moves forward.  In this step, it is also important to talk about how your company’s culture may be working for oragainst the project. Another point to reinforce is that the team has the support of leadership to help navigate the culture roadblocks and to find ways to align the work with your company’s culture.
  1. The fourth step of the Deliberate Diversity™ Discipline is Masterful Facilitation. It is also the most critical skill in the process. Facilitators are not content experts or project leaders. They are process experts. It is their role to make sure, for instance, that every voice at the table is of equal value and that all points of view get heard. Their job is to make sure everyone is engaged while at the same time ensuring the work of the group moves forward and does not get mired too long in the expected conflict and confusion.
Existing managers and leaders may have a tough time adjusting to this role. It requires a unique but learnable skill and requires managers to let go of the role of SME.. The facilitator is managing the process, but not the project. In the end, the facilitator is responsible for collecting all input into the “pool of knowledge” and finding some way to distill that data in such a way as to achieve consensus among all the members of the team.
  1. The fifth step is the outcome of the master facilitator’s work. The step is Driving to Consensus. The process includes the gathering of all the differing and similar points of view and working through a systematic process to get agreement on the answer, the approach, or the process that will be used going forward.
The end result is that everyone in the group agrees to support the outcome. They all must feel that they had direct influence on the final solution so that everybody walks away excited about what the group produced collectively. For each member, consensus means “I can agree to that and I will personally support it.”
  1. Committed Execution is the next step. Now is the time for the group to own their work fully and start doing It. it’s not enough to just plan it.. Now we have to do it.  We believe that those who do the planning ought to be part of the doing because they bring the necessary enthusiasm to achieve results.  It’s not just some crazy idea that some committee over there did.  This is an idea that I participated in producing and I think it is ‘pretty darn good’ and I’m going to put some energy behind it.  I will also hold everyone accountable in the group to do their job.
It is important for the manager or leader connected to the Deliberate Diversity™ project to know that their role is to support the team in doing the execution work.  It includes motivation, encouragement, tools/equipment, running interference up and down the company – helping the team to navigate the company culture.  The manager is the servant of the Deliberate Diversity™ project team.
  1. The last step is Relevant Metrics.The purpose of measuring and comparing is to move Deliberate Diversity™ toward becoming a discipline in your company. The first couple of times it is practiced, you will be testing the efficacy of the process.  The intent is to measure outcomes and be able to say – “We did it without Deliberate Diversity™ last quarter and we got 2.5% increase.  We used the Deliberate Diversity™ Discipline and we got 10%.”  It is important to document the results and-talk about the results. We want to encourage other people to use the Discipline.

If practicing the Deliberate Diversity™ Discipline regularly produces better business results, the Discipline will likely become institutionalized and ingrained in the behavior of the company.  The hope is that managers will get so good with this Discipline – they will not have to think about it – it will become a natural part of how they do their work of managing for excellence.
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