According to economist and author Scott Paige, “When we solve problems with generally one perspective, we build an error rate of 30%.”
An example of this error occurred in the car industry. Previously, teams responsible for testing car safety were typically made up of all males. Because of this perspective, safety tests were done with male-sized dummies. Up until 2011, women were 43% more likely than males to be injured in a car accident. This mistake was not done out of ill intent, but as a result of having an undiversified perspective and an unconscious bias. These biases, as well as emotions, assumptions and habits, have become ingrained in our subconscious over a lifetime of experiences.
According to psychologist Timothy Wilson, “Our five senses bring in 15 million bits of information every second and our brains can only consciously focus on 40 bits of this information at a time.” This means, that 99.9% of the information that we receive is being processed by our subconscious. When forced to decide or respond to a situation, we really are not thinking at all, but are reacting through our unconscious bias perspective.
Knowing this, how can we become proactive and build in a safety net to open our minds to diverse perspectives and decrease the error rate?
Step 1: We must open our own mind to diverse opinions through improved self-awareness and increased self-confidence. Consistent attention on personal development and working on emotional intelligence will help you find value in behaviors instead of performance. When we solely focus on our production, we tend to pursue perfection and rarely will seek or be open to a difference of opinion. However, when we judge our success based upon our behaviors, we tend to pursue excellence and will see differing opinions as opportunities to learn and get better. Improving our self-awareness can be achieved by reading and listening to self-improvement books, enrolling in leadership development programs or seeking wisdom from some experienced mentors.
Step 2: We must begin surrounding ourselves with people of different perspectives. This doesn’t mean that we just hire anyone. On the contrary, we must hire people who bring value to and fit our culture; however, we must bring in people who view things differently. This can include the obvious diversity of age, gender and race, but must also include people who are more or less dominant, extroverted, patient or process oriented. By looking to capture these differences, we are beginning to build a team that can tackle any problem.
Step 3: In order to create a safe environment where opinions can be shared without fear of retribution, intent and the behaviors required of the group must be set. One can imagine how intense and sometimes heated a boardroom could get with driven leaders of differing views. However, if the team first agrees on the intent of the group and the behaviors needed to achieve the vision, leaders are then given permission to hold one another accountable for the positive behaviors needed for all to feel safe. If behaviors are not upheld, safety and trust will never be achieved, and the group will fail to maximize the talent and diversification of the team.
Today, let’s enhance our leadership and culture and start becoming people and companies that others want to follow!
Be a Champion Today.
Brandon Buck is the CEO/owner of Infinite Strengths, a Boise-based coaching company.