Enlivening Edge is a website dedicated to the acceleration of organizations and social systems. It’s got a lot of great resources and is very progressive and hopeful about how we can lean into our ways of working together to bring about more humanity and success in a more interconnected and dynamic world. In other words, it’s a good place to aim and to then figure out where your organization is along the developmental path. In a recent post Natasha Miller Naderi provides some actionable tips on how groups can actually leverage diversity to improve their decision quality.
“It’s not enough to be diverse, obviously, and our human nature finds plenty of ways to limit high quality assessment and decision making. As I’ve said before, skills boot up on a person’s personal “operating system” or consciousness, and the same goes true for teams and organizations so it’s key to both develop the inner game of individuals (self-awareness, self-mastery/management, etc.) and the skills necessary to achieve the results that matter. These kinds of teaming skills are super critical to leveraging each person’s unique wisdom in service of higher quality analysis, experiments, faster learning, agility, and of course results. I’ve reposted the article below for convenience:
When a group of diverse and intelligent minds comes together, amazing things can happen. Conversations can be almost magical — leading to greater innovation, the discovery of products we never imagined, and solutions to complex problems that no one could solve alone. Team decision-making creates exponential learning, unified action, greater energy and momentum, and so much more.
However, the unfortunate reality is that teams frequently fail to live up to this ideal. Have you participated in a “team decision” where only one or two people did the thinking and the rest just went along for the ride? Or maybe you’ve been in a meeting where some seemed more concerned with getting credit for ideas, rather than finding the best solution?
An HBR article by Sunstein and Hastie explains how social and reputational pressures frequently lead groups to make poor and damaging decisions. In fact, in many cases, often “[g]roups do not merely fail to correct the errors of their members; they amplify them.”
Giving decision-making authority to a team can be risky.
What collective capacities need to be present in order for a higher level of innovation and wisdom to emerge? And how do we develop those capacities?
Our experience and research developing teams suggests that there are five key team capacities that need to be present for this innovation and emergence to occur. They are: 1) Compassionate Honesty; 2) Diversity of Input; 3) Independent Investigation; 4) Ideas Belong to the Group; and 5) Unified Commitment to Act.
Let’s explore why each is important and how you can develop them.
Five Capacities for Collective Intelligence
1. COMPASSIONATE HONESTY
Collective intelligence requires a commitment to discovering ‘the best solution’ or ‘the truth’. Truth can only be discovered through honesty. In the absence of honesty, the best solutions and most creative ideas will remain hidden from us.
You might be wondering why “compassionate” honesty? When we hear a difficult yet honest message from someone who is uncaring and rude, it is easy to dismiss it. On the other hand, when the speaker is compassionate and caring, we are much more likely to hear what they have to say, explore that different perspective, and seek to understand even the most challenging suggestion.
2. DIVERSITY OF INPUT
Research consistently shows that diverse groups of problem solvers consistently outperform homogenous groups — even when those homogeneous groups are made up of the best and brightest individuals.
“As individuals we can accomplish only so much. We’re limited in our abilities. Our heads contain only so many neurons and axons. Collectively, we face no such constraint. We possess incredible capacity to think differently. These differences can provide the seeds of innovation, progress and understanding.” 
Further strengthening the case for diverse teams, a 2019 McKinsey study found that that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. And in the case of ethnic and cultural diversity, the top-quartile companies outperformed those in the fourth, by 36 percent.