How to Unlock the Power of Diverse Teams
There is an overwhelming amount of research proving diverse teams get better results. But is diversity enough? An inclusive environment fosters diverse teams and leads to success.
In this webinar, Joel “Thor” Neeb shares insights to a process that will make sure you aren’t putting the cart before the horse when building a diverse team.
Breaking Down the Steps
Everyone is looking at how to unlock diverse teams. Unsure of where to begin, leaders are asking several questions. How do you create more diverse teams in the first place? How do you create an inclusion for that diverse team? How can you unlock the power of diversity within your teams? What characterizes a diverse team?
Understanding the meaning and characteristics of diversity is the first step to achieving it. Diversity, more simply, means having people with appropriate differences and backgrounds in the room as part of your planning process.
Leading your team in an inclusive environment is arguably the most important characteristic of bringing diversity to your team. Once inclusion is taking place you will begin to really tap into those key resources of each individual in a more meaningful way. As a leader, it is important to establish a setting where everyone in the conversation has the opportunity to express their opinions equally. This is the best way to incorporate the diverse perspectives, often referred to as heuristics, into the discussion. Inclusive and highly collaborative environments will cultivate more successful plans. This should be your rule of thumb for approaching problems.
Create a Common Mental Model
The last bullet you should focus on is the idea of creating a common mental model. A common mental model is a way of approaching the problem as a team with a shared process and vision. Recent studies have shown that a common mental model is critical to achieve success because it creates a commonality that helps overcome the natural friction that tends to lend itself to diverse teams and allows faster solutions that leverage the differing opinions of your diverse team.
Diversity Through the Flawless Execution Model
Planning and Red Teaming
If you are familiar with our webinars then you are familiar with the breakdown of our Flawless Execution Model, a diagram that explains the fluid process of planning, briefing, executing, and debriefing. Planning is done collaboratively with an entire team in a room. This is where you get everyone’s fingerprints on the plan. You get their buy-in, you get their insights, you get their perspective. The main objective of the planning period is to create a plan to succeed as a team with combined heuristics. When leading a planning session, you should facilitate a conversation where everyone has an equal voice. Keep in mind that it is meant to be a meritocracy where the best ideas are the ones that get put into the final plan. Considering this, it is clear that planning leverages diversity through inclusion.
Once the initial planning session has concluded and your plan has become a draft, red teaming should be used as a more complex method of peer review. Red teaming helps us avoid analysis paralysis by giving a third perspective from someone outside if your original planning process. If you can’t fall in love with your plan realize that the plan is not perfect, and be able to take inputs from the team without a debate. Note that when you populate your red team with a diverse group you will be doubling the diverse opinions and approaches to solving your problem. This will in turn help you come to an improved and more successful plan more quickly.
With the planning stage complete it is the leader’s responsibility to begin the briefing stage by taking control of the chaos of planning and identifying the key roles and responsibilities to their team. This is where the planning period becomes more active serving as a starter gun for execution. Knowing that no plan is perfect the first go around, you will have to adapt and react to the inevitable changes that take place within the mission environment while we’re executing.
Through the debriefing stage, you are brought back to the inclusive approach, asking your team how the plan can be improved or how the planning process can be better executed the next time around. The planning stage and debriefing stage are the most inclusive and collaborative aspects of the Flawless Execution Model. Understand this stage primarily as “looking backwards to move forwards.” In this stage stress that ideas from inclusion that everyone has an equal say and valid opinion because it’s not about who is right, it’s about what is right. If you’re sensing a trend here, all of these conversations about diversity and inclusion are moving away from the person and are moving towards the idea. Which at the end of the day is what it should be all about anyway.
Success Over Time
If you put people in a room together with different backgrounds and different ways of approaching problems, there are some realistic problems to note. At first, it is likely that they are not going to get along, they are not going to come up with a brighter idea on their own, you will have to facilitate that and it requires you to have third party discussions. Whether that’s through the red team or through a facilitator that’s helping you through the debrief, there needs to be an outside source or leader facilitating that discussion. Having a common process that dictates everything so that you don’t get mired down on whose agenda to observe can also be helpful.
To avoid some of the conflicts that arise from diversity make sure that you are sticking to your common mental model when choosing your team members. Stay away from the idea that populating your team with the right type of faces fosters diversity. You’re not going to leverage the unique capabilities of diverse people if that’s your plan. It’s about inclusion, it’s about building that team that leverages everyone’s opinions and then as you build that reputation that you’ll always be inclusive. When you have done this people from every walk of life will want to join your team and diversity will naturally follow that inclusive reputation.
About the Speaker
Joel “Thor” Neeb
As an Air Force pilot, Thor flew thousands of missions teaching pilots from 25 countries around the world. At the center of each mission’s success was the upfront planning for contingencies.
As Afterburner’s President, Thor leads our team of more than 60 elite military professionals. He has helped Fortune 100 companies within all industries achieve strategic objectives and tactical goals through Afterburner’s Flawless ExecutionSM methodology.