Diversify your team

Wondering how to increase creativity and innovation in the workplace? Make your team a diverse one.

Frans Johansson, author of The Medici Effect, has found that by bringing people from different disciplines and areas of expertise together, innovation is more likely.  Problems tend to be complex, so it takes different perspectives to find a solution.  Having a group made up of people from different backgrounds (such as science, math, sociology, and psychology) puts your team at an advantage.

Diversity can also be beneficial when it comes to identity. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, a professor at the University of Michigan, and his colleague Fiona Lee, and Chi-Ying Cheng of Columbia University investigated this topic and found that the mind of a diverse individual is more creative, as well. Through their studies of Asian Americans, they realized that these individuals, having both Asian and American experiences growing up, could draw on varying realms of knowledge to solve problems and think creatively.

Keeping this in mind as a manager is imperative.  Stifling pieces of an employee’s identity could prevent them from accessing sources of creativity from their stores of knowledge and past experiences.  Honoring different cultures and backgrounds is, therefore, not only necessary and right for humane, civil, and democratic purposes, but it is also beneficial in that it allows employees to perform happily and creatively in the workplace.


Business Phrase of the Week

To make hay means make good use of an opportunity while it lasts.


Phrase of the Week

To think outside of the box means to think in an original or creative way.


Fact of the Week

Have you ever felt less inhibited after drinking a beer?  Most people do.  What they don’t realize is how that inhibition can work to their benefit, creatively speaking.

A recent study from the University of Illinois at Chicago found that having a blood alcohol level (BAC) of slightly under .08 percent can help tap into your creative juices. In the study, participants with a BAC slightly under .08 percent performed better in a creative task than did their sober counterparts. The researchers concluded that a person’s “creative peak” is reached when the person hits a BAC of .075 percent.

It is important to note that the intoxicated group performed worse in the memorytask they were assigned.  Alcohol relaxes you, makes you less aware of your surroundings, and decreases your anxiety level, therefore making you a great creative thinker, but not a very good driver.


Let’s Talk!

  1. Do you consider yourself to be a creative person? Why or why not? Explain.
  2. When you need to think creatively, what are some steps you take to accomplish this? Do you ever have trouble thinking creatively? How do you revitalize your creative brain? Can you think of the last time you had a creative block? Tell your trainer what happened.
  3. In the listening, you hear a number of different suggestions that help people to think creatively.  Which suggestions were new to you? Which ones did you like the most? Why? Did any of them strike you as odd?
  4. How diverse is your workplace? Do you mostly interact with people from the same cultural background as you? Did they study the same thing as you in college? Do you consider yourself to be a diverse individual? In what ways?
  5. Do you think drinking makes people more creative? Are there any other foods or beverages that you rely on to help you to be more focused/not focus? What are your thoughts on coffee? What do you consume to help you stay focused at work?