Recently I was on a panel discussion with Snehal Antani, CTO, Splunk at HMG CIO Conference. The topic was, how to be successful in the new digital era, what is the role new Enterprise architecture should play and how we staff the organization for success. Snehal mentioned, he continually looked at his team as a culmination of Dreamers, Debaters, Executors (which I took the liberty to change to ‘Doers’). What a great, simple and a succinct way to highlight “Cognitive Diversity” of the team.
In my recent blog on Lonely at the Top, I shared the McKinsey findings that companies outperform financially from their industry peers by 15% when there is gender diversity and 35% when there is ethnic diversity. According to Gartner “Cognitive Diversity” is a must have, in addition to other forms of diversity to succeed in the digital world. Who thought the capital intensive, well established industries like Taxi, Hotel, etc. can be disrupted completely in such a rapid fashion? The new leaders like Uber and Airbnb, didn’t optimize the value chain but completely redefined the value chain for the industries. The only common ingredient in both of these success stories are “Digital”. Digital is placing immense pressure on incumbents in all the industries. Digital is forcing the incumbents to step outside their traditional value chain, and question the perceived value by the customers in a provocative way. This requires new way of thinking and new ways of working together, which leads to our topic of Cognitive Diversity.
- Dreamers – These are the people with the “Beginner’s Mindset”, one who thinks about the art of possible, one who thinks without boundaries, one who dreams about audacious goals, one who doesn’t restraint with the execution constraints. Typically, these people can think discrete, see patterns but has an ability to break it or change it or redefine it. Most of them are very good in articulating their vision with great energy and enthusiasm.
” The Beginner’s mind sees many possibilities, while the experienced mind only see few” – Shunryu Suzuki
- Debaters – These are the people with the “Argumentative Inquisitive”. Generally, debaters are one with a ton of positive energy, and a good dose of skepticism. They are not cynics, but pragmatics. They embrace the big ideas and want to make it happen, but unconvinced about the applicability and achievability of the idea. They are the risk eliminators, who try to punch hole from every direction possible. They are believers of Dr.Deming Philosophy; Change agents with tremendous fervor, sense of urgency and commitment to high standards.
“Get the Initial 15% Right, and the Remaining 85% will follow” – Dr.Edward Deming
- Doers – These are the people with the “Divergent Convergent”. People who make the rubber meet the road, by taking the big ideas and numerous data points into consumable pieces for executing. The effective doers know how to conduct experimentation, hypothesis testing and fail fast efficiently. They are also good listeners, and got the knack to communicate feedback from their practical experience back to the Dreamers & Debaters. They live by the viewpoint:
“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” —Japanese proverb
The classy term in Tech & IT industry today is, “War for Talent”. The belief is, if one can get all A-players then they can achieve the impossible. I submit, it is important to build a “Star Team” than a “Team of Stars”. Any day the results from the “Star Team” is far superior than a “Team of Stars”. Cognitive Diversity is a secret sauce to build a “Star Team”. They create the synergy and the ability to deliver an outcome of 1+1=3.
This is my opinion on Cognitive Diversity. What do you think?
By: Meerah Rajavel