Inviting Diversity

A collection of thoughts from others on inviting diversity…

Think about those who “ARE IN”: those with authority, resources, expertise, information and need. (Appreciative Inquiry)

Think about:

  • People who are divergent and convergent thinkers
  • People who are more analytical, and people who are more creative
  • People who are close to the head office and people who work farther away
  • People who are younger and people who are older
  • People with a lot of experience, and people with a lot of imagination
  • People who understand technology, and people who understand people
  • People from inside the firm and people from outside the firm

Think about new voices; they are are essential for new thinking; give disproportionate share of voice to three constituencies typically underrepresented:

  1. Young people (or those with a youthful perspective)
  2. Newcomers (preferably those from other industries)
  3. People from the geographic periphery of the organization

Think about some of your coolest customers and most cutting-edge suppliers. Don’t be afraid to add some non-conformists, some frustrated activists, and some people who are perhaps a little weird and eccentric. (Innovation to the Core)

Think about who we need in the room for something different to occur? People across sectors (business, education, social services, activists) and, more important (though it is rare) across economic and social classes. (Peter Block)

Think about changing who is in the conversation. It is a really hard to see our own blind spots.  Even with a good intention to shift the conversation, without bringing in new perspectives, new lived experiences and new voices, our shift can become abstract.  If you are talking ABOUT youth with youth in the process, you are in the wrong conversation.  If you are talking about ending a war and you can’t contemplate sitting down with the enemy, you will not end the war, no matter how much your policy has shifted.  Once you shift the composition of the group, you can shift the status and power as well.  What if you became the mentors to adults?  What if clients directed our services? (Margaret Wheatley)

Think about inviting diversity. Inviting the diversity of the system is a critical and challenging task for engaging emergence. DEFINE WHO/WHAT MAKES UP THE SYSTEM. What functions, constituencies, or roles are involved? What mix of race, class, gender, geography, and generation is important? Are there nonhuman elements—for example, the environment or animals—that need to be present in some way? GO WHERE THOSE YOU WANT TO PARTICIPATE LIVE AND WORK. If you wish to engage people from a different age, race, culture, etc., put yourself in their settings. Be humble. Listen. Learn. Reach out. They are more likely to join with you if they see that you are interested in a respectful partnership. CREATE AN ORGANIZING GROUP THAT REFLECTS THE SYSTEM. The more a hosting group includes the mix of people you wish to engage, the more equipped you are to invite them to participate. WORK WITH WHAT ARISES AMONG YOU. The organizing group is in the intensive course. The disturbances that exist in the system will show up in a diverse organizing team. Welcome the issues and work them through. Not only does it strengthen the group, but it prepares you for what’s to come as you increase the scale and scope of your work. (Peggy Holman)

Think about expanding who is in the conversation. One question to ask of your conversation circle is: Who else should be here? If you ask this question periodically, you will keep noticing others who can contribute new and important elements to your conversation. (Margaret Wheatley)

Think about who is missing. The “cross-institutional places” in which we could enable productive conversations among all key stakeholders, including supply-chain members, customers, the community, investors, innovators, and the stakeholders that are marginalized or voiceless in the current system. That’s the institutional blind spot today. We must find room for all the key players in any given ecosystem if we are to gather and co-create our futures. It is time for us, as I describe throughout our field walk, to begin to lead from the emerging future. (Theory U)

Think about convening the players: A strategic microcosm connects key players across boundaries who need one another in order to take their system into the best future way of operating. For a microcosm constellation to be productive, it usually needs five types of practitioners: (1) practitioners who are accountable for results (problem owners, such as the CEO of the hospital); (2) practitioners on the front line who know the real problems first hand (e.g., physicians); (3) people at the bottom of the system who normally have no voice and no say about how others spend their money and who bring a different view and focus that can help to reframe the overall issue (e.g., patients or citizens); (4) people outside the system who can offer a view or a competence critical to the success of the project (creative outsiders); and (5) one or a few activists who are wholly committed to making the project work (who have the right heart and who are willing to give their lives to make it work). (Theory U)

Think about who do we really want? Who cares? Who has responsibility for what transpires?

Think about creating a social network map (example here). More on social network map from Anecdote:

  • Whom do you typically turn to for help in thinking through a new or challenging problem at work?
  • Whom are you likely to turn to in order to discuss a new or innovative idea?
  • Whom do you typically give work-related information?
  • Whom do you turn to for input prior to making an important decision?
  • Whom do you feel has contributed to your professional growth and development?
  • Whom do you trust to keep your best interests in mind?

Think about who is in the room? Who is not in the room and how do we bring them in? How do we leverage relationships to propagate the ideas generated by our work together? Who will be interested in the results of our work? (Chaordic Stepping Stones)

Who could you invite into the conversation that would change the conversation?