Diversity and problem solving

Seth Godin reminds us that diversity of thought and contribution solves all problems. Whether that’s you or a team or an entire organization.

Problems have solutions. That’s what makes them problems. A problem without a solution isn’t a problem, it’s simply a situation.

Solvable problems are usually solved by surprising, non-trivial alternatives. If an obvious solution from an obvious source could have provided an answer, it would have happened already.

Instead, it’s the unlikely approaches - the odd combinations that come from diversity - that often win the day.

Diversity might involve ethnicity or physical abilities. But it’s just as likely to involve idiosyncratic approaches and differences in experience. If enough peculiar people get together, something new is going to happen. Author Scott Page has shown that as systems get more complex, diversity creates ever more benefits.

Of course, each of us is peculiar in our own way. Peculiar is a choice, an opportunity to bring our own experiences and our own point of view to the work. We’ve been trained for a long time to hide that unique voice or to pretend it’s not there, because the systems around us push us to conform. So much so that the word ‘peculiar’ has taken on a shameful cast for some - when it simply means specific.

But in a world that’s changing faster than ever, that distinct skill set and point of view are precisely what we need from you.

Without your specific contributions, our diversity of approach and experience fades away.

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