A large part of being successful in a Lean Transformation is repect for people one way we show that is through becoming a more diverse organization, reflective of our communties and our market places.
Today we see far too many businesses struggling to find markets when there has never been greater opportunity in history to identify and meet the needs, wants and desires of the market place.
Why is that you may ask?
Well most times it is because of an excessively narrow leadership in the vast majority of companies. Changing that involves bringing in new and often different groups of people to expand the understanding of an organization so that it can start to see and identify the opportunities that are currently there and those that are currently emerging and even those that will start to emerge in the future.
To do this we may need to find or develop people with different ethnic backgrounds, we may need to bring in more men or women, and we also need to look for people with different experience and knowledge than we tend to focus on. Ideas are by far not limited to the few educated at those most prestigious schools, in fact if that was the case the majority of self made billionaires would come from those places, yet history says they do not. So if elite education does not guarantee you succeeding on your own what would make anyone in business think that it is essential to helping drive most of our businesses. These self made people learned from doing, and every business has a great many of those people within its walls we just have to decide to take advantage of them instead of wasting their talents, skills, and ideas by leaving them in dead end positions.
The Agrument Against It
The biggest excuse for avoiding diversity is that differences of opinion cause disruption in the level of team work in an organization.
Well that may be true if your organization is made up of shallow vain mindless morons that are in capable of honest discussion and debate. I grew up in a family that could on any occasion get into loud and fierce sounding debates, yet often the very people that argued the hardest and loudest were in fact the closest.
Smart people should and do have strong opinions, and it should be encouraged that they share and use them, but smart people also know how to accept that their opinion was not the one that won, and they will support the decision that was made. In fact the best of them will bring up a differing opinion and strongly discuss it even if they personally disagree with it (they plays the devil’s advocate), because by bring it up and dealing with it they help prevent it from coming up later and biting the whole group in the backside when it does.
Another benefit of diversity is that along with all those stronger discussions comes something called passion. “Yes people” are in actuality passionless zombies. If you want to create ideas that excite the market, you need to first excite the people that create and produce them. To do that you have to have people that are passionate about things otherwise they cannot get excited. The passionless walking dead that always say yes boss will never get excited about anything real.
Benefits from Diversity
First most companies are trying to sell products or services to the mass market, yet far too often those people working on creating those products and services have not got a single actual clue as to what the market place really wants or needs. Now if we had more people that started out at the bottom and had worked their way up, we would have far more people that can relate to the bulk of the marketplace having at one time been a part of it. Additionally these people still know individuals that are part of that marketplace, so they can gather information that will better gage the market’s reaction than Ivy League genius ever will.
Surprise the auto industry has always had vehicle models that were winners and losers, and some of the biggest losers were even praised by industry experts, yet if anyone would have asked the line workers producing those losers what they thought they would already have known they where failures. The big three have always forgotten that their workers are actually a great representation of the average car buyer.
Second diversity helps develop innovation. If all you have in your business are a single narrow group, how will you ever be able to determine what other groups want or need truly are. Take people eating habits, the diversity in North America has dramatically shifted what we generally eat. The reason for this is very simple we have kept inviting people of different cultural background into our part of the world, thus more of us experience new tastes, and many of these get blended into our eating habits. This change as created hundred of new products we see on store shelves every year. But other than the food industry far too many companies ignore these new influences. Because we ignore these influences we keep trying to sell products to foreign markets that really do not meet those market’s needs or wants.
The Japanese automakers only really started succeeding when they start hiring North Americans to help design their cars to meet our desires. Well the same holds true if you want to sell to women and not just men, without the ideas and input from women why you would expect to develop loyal female customer base.
Next decision making improves with a wider range if ideas. The more ideas you can generate the more thought you can take before committing to a set of actions. Yes the added diversity will create some differences of opinion, but they are a good thing. These differences will help us prepare better plans in the first place, but they will also help us adapt to adverse conditions that arrive, and let’s be honest they will. Diversity will help adapt quicker every time we face a challenge, because we start out with a far wider range of ideas than those narrowly based organizations. Plus these differences will help us to identify and avoid possible pitfalls along the way because we will have heard and identified far more of them. The result is we have fewer problems which means we get to spend far more time being able to focus on developing future opportunities than on addressing problems with the ones we are trying to take advantage of, and in a marketplace that changes as fast as ours’ does today that is essential.
In the end diversity in all its many flavors will help you do better now, will help you find more future opportunities, and will help you expand your markets.
It will generate excite about and in your organization, and its products and services. Without excite you cannot realyy expect much success in the marketplace, in fact a little excitement can help overcome many shortfalls.
It will also build and strengthen the morale of your business, while motivating your staff, because they will see that they have an opportunity to grow with the business. Strengthening and building loyal employees will improve your organizations image in the public eye, because the reality is today that if you treat your staff poorly everyone knows it, the information age makes keeping secrets virtually impossible.
Lastly a better public image helps develop customer and consumer loyalty something rare today, but some great organization still have and any organization can work toward by simply changing how they look at people as groups and as individuals. The dinosaur generalities of the past were never true, and helped to create all our current problems, only by forgetting them and treating every individual fairly and with the respect they earn can you gain a brighter future.