Driven by Difference:
How Great Companies Fuel Innovation Through Diversity

by: David A Livermore, PhD. Published by Amacom, 2016

From the cover…

Today’s workforce is more diverse than ever before. But despite new perspectives and talents, the promise of increased innovation rarely materializes. Why are so few businesses seeing results? Studies show that diverse teams are more creative than homogenous ones-but only when they are managed effectively.

The secret is to minimize conflict while maximizing the informational diversity found in varied values and experiences. To do this, both leaders and team members need a high level of cultural intelligence, or CQ. Drawing on success stories from Google, Alibaba, Novartis, and other groundbreaking companies, Driven by Difference identifies the management practices necessary to guide multicultural teams to innovation, including how to: Create an optimal environment * Build trust * Fuse differing perspectives * Align goals and expectations * Generate fresh ideas * Consider the various audiences when selecting and selling an idea * Design and test for different users. Cultural differences can lead to gridlock, or they can catalyze innovation and growth. This research-based plan turns diversity’s potential into economic reality.

Teams that deliberately embrace difference are more valuable than teams that seek ‘alignment’ or ‘consensus’. Great teams are made up of people with different worldviews, experiences and approaches, who contribute those differences to the team’s effectiveness. This book examines how to exploit differences inherent in diverse teams to maximize innovation.

A comprehensive introduction to diversity and cultural intelligence provides a clear motivation for developing effective multi-cultural teams in organisations. It includes core elements and concepts behind a culturally intelligent approach to diversity and innovation, and exposes shortcomings of existing diversity models This introduction is followed by two parts comprising five chapters each. Part 1 describes the climate companies need to create in order for culturally intelligent innovation to thrive. Part 2 explains a five-step process to guide teams to develop and deliver innovative and scalable solutions.

The key takeaway is this: diversity alone does not deliver benefits. In fact, research suggests the opposite.

The benefits from diversity are realised when organisations are attuned to the value of the differences that diverse teams bring and are educated to intentionally foster a climate for driving culturally intelligent innovation. Added to these “culturally intelligent” values is the execution of a process to drive results.

Livermore, an expert on global leadership, offers a well-documented work based on extensive empirical findings (surveys, interviews, and focus groups with thousands of professionals) and best practices from major industries and leading companies across the world (e.g., Google, IKEA, P&G).

He asserts that organizational leaders who effectively learn to manage differences can expect expansion into culturally diverse markets, high-quality service to culturally diverse customers, productive global assignments, profitability and cost savings, and multicultural team effectiveness.

The book is available on Kindle, Audible or as a real book from Amazon. You can download a preview in PDF from the author’s blog.