Innovation Management – Diversity Can Make All The Difference

June 5, 2009

Companies are welcoming a diverse range of employees (The Sunday Times, April 10 2005). Doh!
It is incredible that this concept is getting coverage in 2005. I mean, how many new ideas, novel ideas and divergent thinking is going to come from an all male, white board!
Employees tell us that when you bring together a team that represents different perspectives and different experiences, the outcome is richer than if you had a group of people with the same background (The Sunday Times, April 10 2005). Doh!

Reducing the above to the basics of creativity (problem identification and idea generation) and innovation (idea selection, development and commercialisation), it is beyond obvious that diversity and intellectual cross-pollination produces better results:

a) Creativity can be defined as the production of a number of ideas, the production of a number of diverse ideas and the production of a number of novel ideas. Increasing the number, diversity and novelty of participants increases all three (further, manipulating group structures maximises output).

b) Similar individuals have a greater tendency for groupthink, path dependency and parochialism.

c) Diverse and novel participants increase frame breaking.

d) Radical change requires the introduction of new knowledge – less likely without sets of divergent individuals.

e) Radical shifts are more often the result of cumulative incremental changes; degrees of incremental change increase with diversity.

f) Good ideas result from increased tacit knowledge. A diverse group increases the tacit knowledge pool.

g) Good ideas benefit from collaboration – the introduction of a wide knowledge base into the equation.

h) Good ideas benefit from the utilisation of networks – the introduction of a wide knowledge base into the equation.

In conclusion, increased diversity is good. Doh!

This topic is covered in depth in the MBA dissertation on Managing Creativity ?

Kal Bishop, MBA


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Kal Bishop is a management consultant based in London, UK. He has consulted in the visual media and software industries and for clients such as Toshiba and Transport for London. He has led Improv, creativity and innovation workshops, exhibited artwork in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and written a number of screenplays. He is a passionate traveller. He can be reached on