Diversity provides a wide range of resources for big-picture insight, whole-system implementation, and general resilience. Cognitive diversity is especially important for collective wisdom. So consciously include relevant diversity in all forums and then welcome emergent differences, seeking to use them all creatively.
Related: 1 All Concerns Addressed, 5 Capacitance, 28 Generating Shared Orientation, 35 Metabolize Polarization, 44 Power of Listening, 53 Safety First, Then Challenge
Going deeper …
This is an edited version of the video on this page.
Diversity is a resource for many things, three of which are featured in this pattern description.
The first involves how we can involve people in getting decisions carried out or at least not resisting them. In democratic theory this is called “legitimacy” – the willingness of a population to go along with a decision, a leader, or a governmental system. In everyday life, we call it “buy-in”. In this pattern we’ve called it “whole-system implementation” because we’re trying to get everyone in the whole system to participate in making it happen.
It really helps if people can see “people like themselves” in the decision-making group. This involves making sure there’s demographic diversity. If a decision is totally being made by white guys, for example (as is often the case), then the women and the black or non-white people will be less interested in helping out: There is less buy-in for whatever the white guys come with. On the other hand, if non-white people and women are involved in making the decision, those other folks have a sense of legitimacy about it. If I see my kind of person involved in a decision, I feel it has more legitimacy than when I don’t see my kind of person involved.
The same thing goes for the presence of stakeholders in a decision-making or conflict-resolution process. You want to involve a full range of stakeholders – that is, the people involved with the issue, the people who are fighting it out, along with the people who have relevant power or knowledge to bring to the table. To the extent you get all those interests and resources involved in the process, they will carry out whatever decision comes out of the process. The whole system will be involved in making it happen rather than just one piece of the system trying to push it on the rest of the system. The more diversity you bring to the process, the more buy-in you have to actually implement the result.
Another big reason to feature diversity is general resilience: If you are raising 30 different kinds of corn and some blight comes along that wipes out one of your varieties, you still have all these other corn varieties left. If you don’t have that diversity, then the blight will wipe out all your corn and you won’t have any varieties as a back-up.
This is happening to bananas now. There is hardly any diversity among bananas. They have been bred down to a few of the most productive and enjoyable forms of banana. If something comes along and wipes out those few varieties, we would no longer have bananas.