Want to generate inventive new ideas that can win in the market? Build management teams comprising people with the widest possible range of backgrounds and perspectives.
A new study from Boston Consulting Group quantifies the benefit of diversity on innovation and financial performance.
The report points to the fact that people with different backgrounds and experiences often see the problem in new ways. Specific findings included:
- Companies with above average diversity scores averaged 45% income from products and services launched in the past three years. Those with below-average scores averaged just 26% innovation income.
- Margins for the above-average group were 9 percentage points higher than the low diversity group.
- The biggest payoff came from diversity in national origin, industry backgrounds, gender and career path. Age and educational focus showed impact too, but to a lesser extent.
There's lot's more to read here, so if innovation is important to you (and it should be), take the time to read the whole thing.
"It seems two very different behaviors optimize creative thinking for innovation processes...If we never rest, can’t focus, or don't work with each other, we miss out on finding new ideas and fail to execute them."
This new paper from Haworth gets at the brain science behind creativity and innovation. Though the terms are often used in close proximity or even interchangeably, they are completely different. Importantly, the kind of physical environment that supports one, is all wrong for the other.
- There's a sweet spot that's ‘just right’ for creativity to flourish. It's where distractions, stress, and emotions are not high enough to sabotage our ability to focus, but not so low that we’re bored.
- Innovation occurs when people create together. It requires both group focus and periods of socializing.
Serendipitous interactions—particularly among people with diverse backgrounds—fuel innovation, but ‘protected areas’ where teams can feel safe amongst themselves are important too.
A supportive work culture is equally, if not more important than the physical environment. People need to be psychologically empowered to move between spaces as they choose. They need to feel valued, appreciated, and supported by their colleagues and by leadership. They need to feel psychologically safe to stare out the window, take a walk, share what they know, offer a different point of view, or fail.
The best organisational cultures are tolerant of the loner, the thinker. - John Wade "If I was you," said a colleague recently "now would be a very good time to involve customers, to get more people involved". No, I thought, right now that would be the worst thing we could do. Collaboration can kill creativity.…
People do their best thinking in private, NOT in groups. Over 800 studies show this to be true. So why do we keep building open workplaces under the guise of increased Innovation?
When is collaboration useful?
- When dealing with complex problems that span a range of disciplines
- For getting buy-in
- When dealing with fundamental and/or strategic problems
When isn't it?
- You really need to think
- You need radical thinking
- When you need a quick solution
Filter bubbles are a problem for democracy. We believe they’re a problem for creativity, too.
From IDEO: Escape Your Filter Bubble and Enhance Your Creativity
- Talk to strangers - Bill Murray's recommends conversations with cab drivers
- Unfollow people like you - it will open your eyes to other perspectives
- Join a different demographic - Bingo anyone?
- Volunteer - It brings you eye to eye with people you don't usually hang with (and it will make you feel good)
From Fast Company: Expunge these three phrases from the conversation:
- Best Practices - By the time they're 'best' they're stale
- Return on Investment - Yahoo turned down an offer to buy Google for $1M because it didn't pencil out
- "When I worked for ..." - It's so yesterday
Capital One asked 2,500 full-time office professionals about what workplace features were most important to them.
Survey results point to need for flexibility:
- 82% said workplace design influences innovation
- 82% said they have their best ideas in flexible workspaces
- 57% said their workplace does not support innovation
- 71% said workplace design is as important or more important than location when choosing an employer
- Most wanted design elements are natural light and art
- On-site food and beverages are more important than fitness facilities or even, surprisingly, quiet spaces.