Imagine going to a village in the remote regions of China. You ask the village leaders to assemble the smartest, most imaginative, highly respected members of the village. Then you commission them to create the best home possible with no constraints. If they can imagine it, and if physics permit it, they can build it.
You send them away with instructions to return when they have their final design ready for presentation to the village. What are the odds they present a Williamsburg colonial? Zero. It might be the best home to ever come out of that Chinese village, but it will still mirror what they know.
We Must Break Free of Our Own Chinese Village
You can conduct this same experiment with any “village” anywhere in the world. What are the odds that a village in Virginia will create a Japanese pagoda? Zero. The truth is, we all live in our own “Chinese Village”, but the future belongs to those who can break out.
Bunkering in does not move you forward. Leaders who value closing their organization off to the outside inhibit their organization’s growth, prosperity, economic wellbeing and quality of life.
The greatest value a leader can bring to an organization is the ability to help their team break out of their “Chinese village.”
Unfortunately, without developing the internal capability to push the boundaries of your thinking, you’ll remain dependent upon consultants to do so (which is great news for guys like me).
Break Out by Focusing On Diversity & Inclusion
How does an organization develop this capability to regularly push the envelope? The answer is simple: diversity and inclusion.
Diversity doesn’t mean meeting EEO-like quotes, by the way. If you continue to hire people of different ethnicities, religious backgrounds, sexual orientations and skill sets, but who still shop the same stores, wear the same clothes and eat at the same restaurants, you’ll waste your time.
Cultures that value diversity become great at invention and innovation. In my opinion, two of the greatest strengths of the United States is its power to create blue-sky invention and innovation and its prowess to adapt, improvise and overcome. It’s all due to our diversity.
Become a Mosaic, Not a Melting Pot
The United States is a mosaic, not a melting pot. The diversity of the size, shape, and color of each tile gives us our beauty and our power. As you lead your organization, your goal should be to harness that same beauty and power, not blandness and sameness.
The challenge is that a reliable melting pot requires only a container with rigid boundary conditions and the constant application of heat. No leadership required, just management. A competitive mosaic is far tougher to create and keep fresh, requiring great strength of leadership. If you’ll pardon my switching of metaphors…
The beauty and power of your organization does not come from the individual notes, it comes from the melody.
Build a Culture That Values Diversity
To continue to innovate, create and move forward, you must value diversity within your organization. To learn more about breaking free of what holds your organization back, send us a message.