Embracing Awkwardness for Better Decisions

Good decisions need diversity. And I mean real diversity - age, background, gender, the whole lot. This is bad news for those who use the "diversity of experience trumps diversity of actual people" argument to justify their homogenous board, Council or team.

Getting together to make decisions collaboratively is the first step - group decisions are way more accurate than individual ones. But if it's a group full of the same kind of thinkers, we lose a huge opportunity.

The funky infographic below shows that increasing the diversity of the group will increase decision accuracy by up to a whopping 87%. These findings are supported by research out of Northwestern which found that:

"the mere presence of diversity in a group creates awkwardness, and the need to diffuse this tension leads to better group problem solving."

The lesson here is that making good decisions doesn't always feel good and safe - it means getting out of your comfort zone, opening your mind to different points of view and feeling a bit awkward.

How to Open The Door to Awkwardness

For Beginners 

  • Invite relevant team members from other departments to participate in meetings and workshops

  • Appoint an external specialist to your working group or committee.

For High-Achievers

  • Include citizens and stakeholders in workshops and meetings

  • Adopt a diversity policy

  • Use an independent facilitator or advisor for key decisions (I know a good one.)