Books: How Diversity Fuels InnovationBy
At first, Driven by Difference: How Great Companies Fuel Innovation through Diversity by David Livermore appears to be another management book in the crowded field of titles about cultural diversity, but it distinguishes itself chapter by chapter, making a compelling case for the value of considering a multiplicity of viewpoints and backgrounds to spur innovation.
Livermore’s favorite term is “cultural intelligence” (CQ), meaning how well or how poorly a company leverages the diversity of its personnel to inform business decisions. Just having diversity, defined as the inclusion of people of different races, creeds, and cultures, isn’t enough. Utilizing the diverse talents and listening to the ideas of various participants in the company’s decision-making process can turn a badly designed product, service, policy, campaign, or initiative into a game changer.
This book provides many examples of what to do—and what not to do. For instance, what if the only ones who want to see the idea through to market are the engineers who designed it? What if nobody checked its potential impact on existing technology, whether it’s likely to play well in enough markets to make it worthwhile to construct or launch it, how customers might actually use the product or service, or whether the marketing strategy will play across different age groups and demographics? No good company would do something this carelessly.
Companies can learn how to avoid these pitfalls by recruiting diverse candidates, empowering them to participate in the decision-making process, and taking their ideas seriously. As Gen. George S. Patton once said, “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” Diversity of thought is a key to success.
Livermore reiterates that not everyone is acculturated in the same way. Look at your coworkers: There are introverts and extroverts, Baby Boomers and Millennials, hard workers and slackers. Now add the complexity of employees coming from different cultures, in different time zones, with differing expectations as to what constitutes “business as usual.” That complexity can be an asset, though. Paying attention to diverse opinions informed by CQ can help a business grow and expand.
This book will interest management accountants and finance supervisors, giving them insights to boost their CQ and improve their ability to tap into their team’s diversity of thought and give directions based on those insights. Upper management, including CFOs, will gain ideas for how to set expectations for cultivating and using cultural diversity to the advantage of their organization.