Is diversity quantifiable?

By: Bill Van Eron Friday May 31, 2019 0 comments Tags: Bill Van Eron


By Bill Van Eron

Ecosystem Value Strategist

Headwaters Marketing & Innovation

van-eron-inside-photo_1In an age where some overanalyze things, this great question was asked on Quora. As I internalized its anal nature, my mind recalled a statement decades ago: “The bean counters will dominate business as risk aversion abounds.”

It certainly seems true as we look at how many in business micromanage people & limit new thinking. On the flip side, as all businesses strive to connect to their markets and attract the best talent, diversity becomes a far greater mountain of value to apply as it encompasses greater trust, inclusion & relevance – all notably crucial to success internally and externally. Initial guidance helps. Our systems add agility & value naturally as key to helping more employees to step up and matter.  

Orgs used to embrace insights on obvious merits to achieve an advantage. Increasingly, risk aversion appears to be a leadership crisis as more orgs stuck in outdated operating modalities fail. When ideas or assumptions do arise, they are often created without the discipline and value a diverse effort or review offers. Embrace a more rounded expression of the values crucial to success: trust, credibility, inclusion, open dialog, culture, diversity, empathy, insight to what really matters internally & externally to achieve relevance beyond the norms. All are designed to enable our best humanity in evidence, not to be isolated or measured anally. A true leadership commitment to diversity, inclusion and more is vital.

Markets have transparency to how genuine you are to promises made internally & externally. Most downgrade orgs practicing outdated management approaches versus leadership aligned to 21st century values. Many apply organizational rigor to analytics & approvals. That discourages ideas; thus that extra oomph employees give when they regard for their work & purpose as inclusive, they care to do their best.

As an example, I also worked in high tech environs. Yes, left-brain dominance often infringes on the full value of right-brain creativity, trust & relevance. Yet, my sense of what markets & employees valued revealed ways to seamlessly integrate challenges to the status quo, create inclusion, all as an agile, genuine trust building process & the highest revenues generation. For many, the status quo becomes formidable. In bottom line focused orgs- many feel obligated to stick with long held norms well past their effectiveness.

Another example: HR -- instead of championing a more open culture and accountability to purpose and values -- too often falls into a wall building pattern, such as; “This is how things are done here.” This absence of a cultural champion stymies opportunities to improve around new thinking, as why bother?

Infuse an objective, insightful third-party and most are shocked at how clearly we see what is stopping success and the path to greater effectiveness and value. None of the values listed are seen as crucial because of bottom line & short termism versus accountability to the fact that without these values in place, as a sustained priority, everything fails. People are “expected” to do their jobs versus enabled to, revealing an org not invested in its people or customers beyond superficial norms that all see through quite easily.

This is why I hope to inspire more right brainers to follow a path of higher value than using creativity to make things look good, when in truth, conscious design and an Ecosystem Officer can create a foundation essential to embrace orgs as trusted, relevant & inclusive internally and externally. So diversity in people, approaches, attributes, and objectivity contribute to a representative whole all can embrace.

Diversity becomes a key to helping any org to achieve relevance and to transform naturally versus “that process leaders fear as disruptive to work, slow, costly and thus risky”. One should expand their view of diversity beyond just ethnic or gender diversity, as we all should share the same chances to affect success, create new attributes beyond job definition limitations, earn regard, contribute to opportunity and more. The best applications of “diversity” were clear to me because my training in design marketing, innovation, PR, and brand.

Now agile organizational transformations reveals that diversity in experience, attributes, values, insights, problem solving, creative thinking, and my own life shaping skill -- systems thinking -- shifts orgs that seem lifeless, mechanical, superficial, to being living, interdependent, trusting, effective and relevant environs that share regard for all who care to contribute.

Ways to interpret diversity as the high value it really is today, if not always:

  1. Look at how your org. shapes strategies, ideas, programs and product launches. If one person or a team of all like-minded people shape it, without objective, mixed viewpoint input, that effort has a higher risk of failure. The best ideas and actions are made when that team is representative of the audience it wishes to impact to the positive, or invites a true mix of people who relate well to their values and needs. But this is not new, as Edward De Bono’s 1990’s book “The Six Hats” clearly infers the value an enabled diverse group adds to any ideas or actions.
  2. It helps to realize why industry “experts” are not credited with a respectable percentage of innovation in any industry, possibly because they get set in their ways. Look at a mix of people that ask good questions and synthesize values across the internal & external success ecosystem. Leverage attributes, concerns and ideas inspired by the one put forth or new…and more of what comes from such a diverse process of inclusion is relevant, well-conceived and key to success as all buy in as an outcome.
  3. New leadership requirements – empathy, listening, openness, reasoning - create strong arguments for more women in leadership roles. Attention to culture, investing to empathize with market and employee values, creativity, trust and inclusion are skills that initially challenge how many men evolved, so women with these attributes should see great opportunities and performance gains.
  4. Objectivity infusions are also key to success. As a right brained, possibility and systems thinker with rare experience applying all of the values listed above, I often had CEO’s and other leaders pull me aside to ask how someone in a completely different industry and job could see what many experts missed and shape it so they always achieved major growth leaps. Diversity can augment some of your objectivity needs as when major changes hit at an exponential rate, as we see today. It’s rare to find the right solution provider when one does not yet have an objective read on the scope of need and opportunity.
  5. The value of diversity is also key where it is representational to the market or audience to be served. We see this imbalance in business and in politics that leads to poorly thought out, or even discriminatory actions. Where these actions compromise human values, collective truths, shared risk & reward, trust and relevance, the risks to success outweigh all potential gains.

We are entering an age of interdependency & continuous enlightenment. Diversity, and all values above are less something for the risk averse to measure, than to enable bolder, new thinking and higher impact that needs to also be enabled by leadership. Leaders are shifting from generalists & expertise to enabling others. Diversity stands tall when change is upon us, as well as part of the system to sustain success hereon forward.

One of my associates hosted an open dialog session between Boomer-aged leaders and Millennials re: the topic of “Working with Millennials” and all in attendance found high value, engagement and an enduring practice they soon applied with great success.

My journey to relevance rocketed in value when I left my corporate design comfort zones to immerse myself in the cultures, values and needs of more across our ecosystem. Today, such a sacrifice is still rare, as it was then. But what I observed through a designer’s viewpoint by immersing myself in sales, channels, R&D, HR, finance, analysts, editors & media…first earned their trust and regard, while revealing far greater creativity and business actions than I ever would have seen in a corporate desk job.

Diversity as a mindset is seeing more that matters to others and acting on it to add brand value.

Bill Van Eron

About the Author: Bill Van Eron

Bill Van Eron has enjoyed a progressive career in design, marketing, PR as now a perfect experiential transition to help others transform. While Bill still has deep marketing savvy, his goal is to enable others with talent with a better foundation for success. Bill’s 24 years in HP served as a testing ground for challenging the status quo while earning trust, catalyzing others on global teams to add their insight & talents, and achieving yet unprecedented revenues growth…plus advancing all so tech, innovation and humanity achieve a level of effectiveness that all  see as trusted and relevant. Bill is the CEO of Headwaters Marketing & Innovation and champion for conscious design and ecosystem leadership.