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Cognitive Diversity in the Workplace, and How Different Perspectives Can Benefit Everyone

Significance and Impact of Cognitive Diversity at the Workplace

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Cognitive diversity means having people with unique styles of problem-solving, who can provide different perspectives as they think differently. It varies from demographic diversity which emphasizes collecting blend of statistical characteristics like age or gender. Cognitive Diversity focuses on getting a team of people who perform intellectual activities differently, such as coming to the conclusions or making associations. 

If you have cognitive diversity in your workplace, you will be considered as powerful as other businesses that try to attain through great communication and strong leadership. Cognitive diversity is a more inclusive, open and collaborative space where people get the opportunity to create and implement ideas. This brings smarter, better fitting and optimistic employees to the company. 

It is true that people like to work with others who share similar business styles. However, when you get more of the same, you end up with more of the same! There is no or lack of innovation which can result in slow, painful death in any company. 

Experts have read the patterns in how people gather and process data and collaborate with others. There are people, who prefer to use available data to new challenges, while others try to create new knowledge. 

How a company can harness cognitive diversity?

You must take a glance at your team. Have your team recently created anything extraordinary? If not, why? When it comes to a dedicated team, there is a limited set of reasons that introduce why a team doesn’t work as expected. One of the reasons is failing to harness the power of cognitive diversity. 

In cognitive diversity, people do the following things-

  • Make sense of new data 

How we take in, absorb, and process data

  • Solve problems 

How we create and understand the process of exploring the evidence, getting options, making choices, and managing risks.

  • React to a new situation 

How we face the coming situation with confidence.

This kind of diversity generates better results for the business. A software or mobile company can enhance innovation by 20%, lower the risk by 30% and ease the decision implementing. 

When we talk about team performance, there are different views of cognitive diversity. Some people believe that cognitive diversity is the most important thing when it is about team performance. They take identity diversity as a secondary thing. Other leading thinkers reject this belief because they find identity diversity as important as cognitive diversity since it increases the dialogue quality, creates a safer space, and lowers the risk of biases. This ultimately brings them the best thinking of the group.

Every business has cognitive diversity, it’s just some get successful in getting the most of it. Those who fail to capture the full benefit of it because leaders accidentally suppress this type of diversity as they make choices and respond in line with their own preferences. How one can take the entire benefits of cognitive diversity? Here are the three simple steps that will help you in leveraging the complete potential of your team’s cognitive capacity-

1. Know your own cognitive preferences 

It’s better to get insights into the details and understand the patterns. Or you can go for scanning the themes and patterns and later dive in the data as required. 

When there is a problem, what do you prefer- focusing on your time and attention on the following: –

  • Measuring evidence
  • Creating options
  • Process management 
  • Deciding which option to pursue 
  • Mitigating risk

Encountering the new situation, do you prefer-?

  • Depending on past models or experiences OR
  • Create new solutions 

2. Find out where you may be shutting down others

  • See if you get impatient when anyone asks you for extra details.
  • You find it sloppy when a person starts creating hypotheses before even using all the existing information.
  • Are you able to resolve issues with people who share the same orientation as you do?
  • You feel frustrated if anyone asks to follow his/her process
  • You unnecessary get suggestions to have “fresh thinking”
  1. Use and apply strategies to leverage the cognitive diversity of the workforce 
  • Have a conversation with your team – Share what you think about yourself, request feedback and set a group intention to do teamwork to get the most from diverse thinking. 
  • Be specific with your thoughts, feelings, and actions – while you are in a meeting, ask yourself: is my way better or just different from others? What perspectives haven’t we discovered? 
  • Create collaborative processes to optimize for the strength of the team – Suppose you love finding solutions but not the root cause analysis, you can ask any team member to volunteer that work. 

We fear new things and thus, we often dismiss them. This costs us more. Leaders who embrace the new comings and unlock the diversity of all kinds do better in the business. Cognitive diversity in the workplace can bring competitive advantages to businesses or companies. Teams become faster at problem-solving when they are cognitively diverse. 

“It’s a less visible thing in any business company. Cognitive diversity cannot be seen by people but they can experience by watching the way used by the person to process information. Neither it can be predicted nor detected.” 

What do you think about cognitive diversity? Do you really believe that this type of diversity impacts positively on the growth of a business? How a company can truly harness the cognitive diversity for its own benefit? Share your thoughts regarding the same with other readers on this post. 

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