Diversity enriches path to trust, relevance & growth

By: Bill Van Eron Wednesday July 11, 2018 0 comments Tags: Bill Van Eron

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Bill Van Eron

Conscious Market Strategist

Headwaters Marketing and Innovation

Unfortunately, antiquated notions, bias and holdover desires to control have impacted our nation and Corporate America towards embracing the values that create trust and relevance internally and externally. A force for positive change has happened where real people across a growing diversity of gender, ethnicity, culture and faith, find a path to trust, unity and shared values. Companies that fail to challenge their assumptions, status quo and welcome new thinking, objectivity and diversity, inadvertently become closed, internally focused cultures that fail.

I grew up in Brooklyn and Queens, NY. Working as a designer in the most demanding NYC marketplace. Tasked to solve challenges with original and relevant solutions -- to stay employed -- NYC's abundance of diversity inspired an endless source of value when tapped into with a conscious search for fresh and relevant value in life, creativity, work and community. The symbolic light carried by the Statue of Liberty always stood tall as our daily reminder to who we are, as those who knew what to look for experienced daily stimulus to what matters and makes us special. Our current administration mocks this shared value and corporations have lagged to be proactive to eliminate the glass ceilings imposed on women, and people of color. In fact, diversity in leadership always produces companies that matter and inspired, caring employees within. So we have to consciously rise above politically demeaning and corporate agendas of control to shape and grow our voice as to what really matters as shared priorities. Those same initially resistant governments, corporations and communities all will win far bigger than any argument for continued resistance can justify. So don't give up on them as they soon will be part of the solution, or that better you enabled by attention to others. 

The irony is that what evolving conscious designers learn, is about to become vital for more of us to understand and master in life, work and community. Fast Company articulated what I had the good fortune to realize decades earlier as a designer fueled by curiosity, value, attention to others and diversity. The top designers across graphics, industrial, organizational and urban design concurred that design and marketing is at an intersection of oblivion or utopia. I will cover this in a near future blog, but suffice it to say they concurred with my long-held belief that a new breed of conscious designer -- fueled by diversity, systems thinking and values -- would be a key agent of transformative value and relevance at the C-Suite strategy table. 

Many of the words that define the top corporate priorities beg a mindset shift, deeper understanding and new thinking, given how most corporations fall short in accomplishing those priorities. Innovation, inclusion, culture, talent recruitment, customer experience, and diversity all share a place on that top list of challenges that still are unresolved or under-realized for years to decades. A diverse "we" can improve that now, not as some long drawn out process as we see in abundance. More so as a contagious enlightenment when peoples innermost values are freed up and enabled to the benefit of more in their internal and external ecosystems. 

Our soon-to-be-announced solution applies a more conscious design to be among the first to enable professionals, leaders, companies, organizations and governments concerned about their pattern to fall, to now rise by addressing all needs human as one integrated, continuous conscious compass of actions. Markets won't fall for companies that just say the right words where actions fall short, as an alarming amount now do. I will focus on one key component -- diversity -- so more can see the wealth it offers all of us as an inclusive, shared benefit. Our current administration mocks this shared value and corporations have not been as proactive as one would hope to eliminate the glass ceilings imposed on women, and people of color, when in fact diversity in representative leadership always produces companies that matter and inspired, caring employees within. Likewise, governments whose leaders champion the needs of their constituents as their highest calling, provide a clear compass for diversity in leadership and integrity across stated intent.

How you define diversity is a great place to start your journey to maximizing what it really means in values, insights and actions.

Gender -- The requirements for success today that call for greater attention to others, empathy, soft skills, new, creative, possibility and systems thinking are often recognized strengths in women. While men are learning to surrender long held notions to be adult experts, women tend to be first to be comfortable as continuous learners and even as situational novices without false pride interfering. Our goal is for real strengths to be a shared advantage while recognizing the early champions among us, so others can emulate those strengths too, no matter their gender, ethnicity or focus area.

Ethnicity -- Personally, while often the minority as a Caucasian who chose to be with my diverse friends, we all gravitated to values we shared. Whether in sports, art, friendships or work, we respected where our differences added value and were unbiased about who displayed those values. When I hosted the heads of Panasonic and Matshusita on an 8 day press tour, we spoke of values, nature, family. Same when engaged in open dialog with cab drivers from Ethiopia. So, when I hear how companies say they struggle with a diverse workforce. cultures, beliefs and viewpoints: I can't help but suggest they invest the time to circle their viewpoint wagons to realize what they share, why that matters, and where new thinking applies. Then apply that to a relevant vision, work of meaning and witness a company in rhythm with the pulse of its markets and its people. 

Culture: Open Dialog, Outside-In Objectivity, Systems Thinking -- The best is last as more realize they need to transform their culture, but to what remains unclear. The first challenge is to assess how your culture is internalized by employees and how markets define it with regard to how well it enables people and creates a purpose that inspires employees and communities alike. Some leaders still cringe at 360 degree assessments as too revealing. So we offer discovery sessions. Some leaders fear being exposed for weaknesses, which is why we advocate a new mindset of credibility, open cultures and a more positive application of that dreaded four letter word...accountability. We are witness to a growing leadership crisis, yet we are all human and aspiring to matter. In our advisory work, we apply open dialog as one of several forms of inclusion. 

When employees feel their ideas and thoughts are welcomed, listened to and acted on where warranted, more buy-in and care to do their very best in support of strategies, objectives and processes. That also leads to a culture of innovation. While our business enables the best in all of us as a collective force, we also know most or all organizations inadvertently become closed, internally focused cultures. Nothing helps that as well as periodic outside-in objectivity and new thinking infusions integrated with where you really are to then craft the bridges to where you might be. We hope what we do, soon inspires a new breed of integrated advisory to get beyond silo thinking and competitions that close cultures. This is way bigger than us so all competition or those in need are welcomed to share the journey as that benefits a world in need. 

Start your journey. Customers and markets have long known what they value and have total transparency to which companies achieve those values. So yes, I cringe when I hear corporate-speak that infers your customer's journey circles around what you make, knowing the real journey is to measure up to their value-based expectations. Just like I disdain any who succumb to politics defining who they are, to rise above that and respect open dialog about the issues, I also encourage leaders and professionals to get past false definitions of who they are, and transform jobs defined by repetition and time pressures to jobs defined by value and experience creation, conscious design and inclusion. I was never a high level manager in a Fortune 50 corporation -- though offered that later -- but my work as a conscious design professional within the ranks earned top strategic regard, totally inspired, inclusive global teams and unprecedented revenue growth. Evolve your mindset, recognize your assets and limitations to develop greater ones across the community that defines your organizational success and the ecosystem that connects that to market values.

Bill Van Eron

About the Author: Bill Van Eron

Bill Van Eron, CEO of Headwaters Marketing and Innovation has a 40+ year career being ahead of conventional thinking, yet spot on with values crucial to employees, markets and influencers. Bill & his NAV360 alliance team enable leaders and professionals that care to shape and do work that matters, beyond the line that defines superficial; dead center to trust, inclusion, insight, credibility and relevance  (www.HeadwatersMarketing.com www.RapidKTservices.com/nav360 [email protected] 970-221-0751).