A different way of thinking – the advantages of cognitive diversity
Making a case for diversity within the workplace is nothing new. However, when we hear the word ‘diversity’ most of us will naturally think of race, religion, age or sexuality. Very rarely will cognitive diversity, the different ways in which we think, and problem solve, be thought of.
Although it is only instinctive to gravitate towards people who think in the same way we do, broadening the range of thinkers you surround yourself with can only be a positive thing. Complacency in your approach will be challenged and you will gain insight into different ways of thinking. Cognitive diversity should not be viewed as a nuisance or a ‘quota fulfilling’ exercise. It is an invaluable asset that any business can benefit from.
Maximising the Potential of Each Thinker:
- The Imaginator: Your mind is awash with thoughts and ideas, as your title suggests. Your innovative thoughts are often based on abstract concepts and are conveyed through metaphorical or visual means. Your work may not be organised, and you will need a lot of space for your thoughts to truly flourish.
- The Visualist: You are the archetypal ‘creative’ who loathes reading and regurgitating information from a screen or book. You are able to visualise your vision from conception to finish before anyone else has even caught up. Pragmatists will try to clip your wings, but take little notice, let your ideas soar!
- The Performer: Your hobbies outside of work tend to be found in the arts i.e. music and drama. This energy can often be found to be reflected in your work. You demand variety in delivery, thinking and providing solutions to problems.
- The Inquisitor: You are a curious cat, and little can be done to dampen your enthusiasm for finding a new solution to an old problem. Rather than suggesting an all-encompassing solution to any one problem, you will endeavour to provide multiple solutions.
- The Adventurer: Your thirst for life is apparent for all to see and you demonstrate this in your approach to work. Flexible and never afraid to leap into the unknown, you will need to be challenged as routine is your enemy.
Advantages of Cognitive Diversity
- Increased Creativity: Creativity is born through diversity and there is no escaping that fact. Creativity in essence is the bringing together of two separate ideas and finding a new solution using the best points from both ideas. So, it goes to stand that a room full of people who think differently will arrive at a working solution a lot quicker.
- Increased Decisiveness: Just as quickly as you will be able to settle on a plan going forward, you will be able to discard any weaker ideas. When working in solitary, we can become transfixed on an idea we invented. We may neglect to look it objectively and see its flaws. Pitching your idea to people who think differently to you will make these flaws apparent a lot quicker.
- Increased Productivity: Rather than trying to complete a task on your own, cognitive diversity will enable members who specialise and thrive in certain areas of thinking to carry out tasks more effectively and efficiently.
- Enhanced Perspective: No two people are alike in the way that they think. This can be a priceless tool when working on a group project. Where one person may seek to focus purely on a solution, another colleague may be more concerned with the reason to why there is a problem in the first place. This may help prevent the same issue from happening again later on down the line.
What to be Wary of
- Increased Competition: With an array of ideologies competing to any given problem, a keenness to assert a particular viewpoint will be a natural by-product. This isn’t necessarily a negative but something to keep a close eye on and under control.
- Communication Issues: Contradictory approaches can yield magnificent results, but it can also foster issues surrounding communication. All different thinkers must feel reassured that their approach is just as valid as their colleague’s, despite using different means to get to a solution.
- Team Harmony: team harmony can also be impacted by conflicting approaches. It is up to managing members of the team to ensure that this doesn’t spill over into literal conflict, thus reducing productivity. Disharmony among the team must be nipped in the bud. All members should be reminded that they are working towards a common goal!
Like implementing any form of diversity within the workplace, cognitive diversity will throw up its challenges. But if managed correctly, you will begin to wonder why you have not stressed its importance until now. Diversity in thinking is a critical apparatus which we should all apply to ourselves. If we do, we’ll understand our strengths and weaknesses more coherently. It will also provide a solution to those seemingly unsolvable problems.
Take our Cognitive Diversity Survey to see what type of creative you are… but by no means let this label define you!
Click on the link below to reveal what creative description best fits you: