Early in my career I had the amazing experience of bringing valuable diversity to a team. I joined an all-male team of analysts focused on evaluating future potential of new technologies.
However, the diversity I brought was not what you are thinking… it had nothing to do with the fact that I was the first woman on the team – it was a new way of seeing the world.
The team was made up of scientists and engineers; all smart, logical, and with a knack for seeing the business potential of technology. However, I was the first science fiction nerd on the team (at least, I was the first who openly admitted it). Suddenly, with me, our team had an unbridled passion for what could be (eventually), wrapped in whimsical stories and a style that some would describe as ‘head stuck in the clouds’.
The rest of the team described new materials or technology through numbers such as tensile strength or heat resistance and their potential impact on current technologies and approaches. However, when I talked about a new material, I always started with a story about space ships, robots, bionics, wearable technologies, or true artificial intelligence.
At first, my colleagues thought my style was ridiculous, but… it worked.
By using stories reminiscent of movie blockbusters, tv shows, and popular books, the messages became more approachable, understandable, and resonated with a wider audience. My ‘unorthodox’ approach allowed the team to discuss highly technical and scientific topics with a non-technical audience in a way that was engaging and effective.
When it comes to diversity, it is not about what we look like, how old we are, our gender, ethnicity, educational pedigree, etc. All those things are just part of the story. Diversity is about how we think, how we approach problems, and how we see the world, which is fed by our background, experiences, interests, passions, and whatever that special spark is that makes each of us unique.
Celebrate all the differences and embrace true diversity, because when we work with people who think differently, we unlock a wealth of creative solutions to move forward on the path to success.