The standard concept of sustainability is the capacity of biological systems to remain diverse and productive over time - like healthy wetlands and old growth forests.
In the workplace, sustainability is equally important in considering the two-legged biological 'systems' that sit in cubicles, drive to sales calls, conduct virtual meetings, perform surgery, write manuals, handle customers, and a host of other activities.
For an organization to survive and thrive in this competitive, 24/7 world, resiliency translates into staying power - staying power that keeps great employees and clients; staying power that offers up innovation and collaboration; staying power that fosters smart productivity without exhausting the people who perform. Without that staying power, there is NO sustainability. And there can be no staying power without diversity.
Imagine an ocean heavily weighted with sharks. In time, food would be depleted and the sharks would turn on each other (this might sound like some companies you know). If everyone in an organization looked alike, spoke alike, and thought alike - in time the organization would shrivel and disappear because the world and a customer base no longer resemble a singular entity.
From my vantage point as both a teacher and student of resiliency, I believe that resiliency of thought is the next horizon for Diversity and Inclusion programs.
This article is designed to add another dimension: do we both seek and listen to others whose THOUGHTS are different from ours? The LA TIMES reported that "months before California's new disability claims system debuted, a whistle-blower told his superiors it contained errors that could mar a successful launch. His predictions proved accurate." However, diversity of thought was NOT acceptable and, for EDD employee Michael O'Brien, reassignment was in order.
From my work within a variety of organizations, failure to listen to others who offer a contrary viewpoint can hamper progress, profitability, and performance.
Here are two recommendations to encourage the fostering and acceptance of diverse thought: 1. Ask for input from the youngest or newest employees.
Here's why. They come with fresh eyes, un-jaded by politics or personalities. Do something with the input and let them know what you did. Thank them for their input. Use what you can and let them know what pieces you cannot put into action and why. Do this on a regular basis and I guarantee you will create a wellspring of enthusiasm and commitment. 2. Seek input from those "closest" to the action.
Soldiers on a battlefield have a far different view of the terrain and the enemy than generals sitting in a war room. The truck driver who makes long-distance hauls knows more about what is needed in a dependable 18-wheeler than someone sitting in purchasing.
Be sure to recognize all those to seek and report out what they learned from others. Create a "what did I learn today" tweet post that reflects a new way of looking at something. The more you encourage diversity of thought, the more resilient and sustainable your organization becomes. Eileen McDargh is a Hall of Fame motivational speaker, management consultant, resiliency expert and top thought-leader in leadership. Visit The Resiliency Group website to get her free quarterly e-zine, read her blog and articles. Discover why hundreds of satisfied clients from all over the globe hire Eileen to keynote at their meetings and facilitate their retreats. © 2014, The Resiliency Group. Reprinted with permission.