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Home  > Article

The Creative Value of Diversity

By Kal Bishop

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.

I recently gave a presentation at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design on a topic entitled "Is creativity management an oxymoron?"

The essential confusion to people resistant to the idea of "creativity management" was the word "management." Replace it with the word "optimization" and the resistance disappears; all we're really trying to do is optimize the quality of the idea pool and optimize the implementation process.

Then you can suggest that most people already implicitly accept the idea of creativity management: if you ask them to solve a problem or engage in a particular endeavor, one of the things they're likely to do is herd people into a room with a flip chart and conduct some sort of brainstorming session and implicit in that action is the acceptance that certain methods, processes and procedures enhance creative output.

Then you can begin discussing how to improve the enormous amount of creative output people generate, from problem solving in everyday business life right up to the level or art.


Diversity and intellectual cross-pollination produce 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 maximizes output).

b) Similar individuals have a greater tendency for group-think, 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 utilization of networks the introduction of a wide knowledge base into the equation.

Kal Bishop is a management consultant based in London, UK. His specialities include Knowledge Management and Creativity and Innovation Management. 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.

Copyright 2008 All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without prior written authority.

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