8 min read
What Is Cognitive Diversity?
In today's dynamic business landscape, companies are constantly seeking avenues to foster innovation, drive growth, and remain at the forefront of their industries. One of the most powerful catalysts for achieving these goals lies within the concept of cognitive diversity. Cognitive diversity refers to the differences in thought processes, problem-solving styles, and approaches to decision-making among individuals in a group or organization. In addition to traditional diversity categories such as gender, race, or ethnicity, it focuses on harnessing the richness of various perspectives to foster creativity and innovation.
Diversity Sparks Growth and Innovation
Studies have shown that cognitively diverse teams consistently outperform homogenous groups in problem-solving tasks and decision-making processes. A study conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that companies with diverse management teams were 45 percent more likely to report growth in market share over the previous year and 70 percent more likely to capture a new market. Cognitive diversity fuels a collective intelligence that enables teams to approach problems from different angles. This results in richer discussions, more comprehensive analyses, and ultimately quicker and more effective solutions.
A Deloitte study also indicates that diverse cognitive perspectives serve as a source of enhanced creativity, leading to an approximately 20 percent increase in innovation. Moreover, such diversity teams equip teams to identify potential risks, resulting in reductions of up to 30 percent. Additionally, it facilitates the execution of decisions by fostering consensus and establishing trust.
Psychological Safety Is Essential
As we can see, cognitive diversity can boost your business. It’s not that easy, however. The authors of the HBR study emphasize the importance of team members feeling safe in their working environment to share their suggestions and opinions. A strong sense of psychological safety within a team should be a high priority for leaders. It must be okay to fail, take risks and to meet a challenge in multiple ways, without the fear of negative consequences.
To realize the potential within a team, leaders must be helping employees find trust, autonomy, and interdependence, writes Anne Krog Iversen, Chief DNA & Culture Officer at TimeXtender in this Forbes article:
“We want to foster a culture of continuous improvement and innovation by encouraging feedback and implementing new ideas and technologies while celebrating and recognizing successes and achievements to reinforce a strong and productive performance culture.”
Cognitive Diversity at TimeXtender
Embracing cognitive diversity is not just a choice – it's a strategic imperative. At TimeXtender, we're committed to continuously nurturing an inclusive workplace that celebrates differences and empowers every individual to contribute their unique perspectives.
Being a fully distributed company across nine different time zones, TimeXtender is getting more diverse as we grow. As of August 2023, we are now represented by people living in eleven different countries, speaking twice as many languages. And speaking of languages – Mike Maxell, one of our talented BI Analysts, speaks seven languages: Slovenian, English, Croatian, Danish, Swedish, French and Italian!
Cultural diversity gives a comprehensive understanding of global markets and costumer preferences, facilitating effective expansion and engagement on a global scale. By hiring cross-nations, we enrich our internal dynamics but also augment our competitive edge in the international business landscape.
The Gender Gap
With a 69/31 balance between men and women at TimeXtender, it’s safe to say we have some work to do. Although we’re proud to say that our executive team has a 50/50 gender balance, it’s not the case in some of our Light Cones, which is what we call a group of XPeople that share similar areas of expertise. Like many other tech companies, we especially see the imbalance in our Engineering and Solution Specialist teams.
Research confirms that teams with an equal gender mix perform better than male-dominated teams in terms of sales and profits. In general, women frequently excel in collaborative and empathetic thinking, fostering cohesive team dynamics and innovative problem-solving. This complements the typically analytical and goal-oriented approach often associated with men, resulting in a holistic decision-making.
By promoting gender balance, we aren't merely striving for inclusivity; we're striving for optimal performance. TimeXtender supports the movement of encouraging women to be part of the tech industry and shaping the future of tech. Stay tuned for more news on how we plan to do that!
Age Diversity's Influence on Problem-Solving
Another aspect of diversity in a group is, of course, age. Not to imply that age defines anyone, but a person’s perspective is often influenced by their experiences. A twenty-something would probably identify other risks entering a new market than someone in their fifties. Having them on the same team ensures a more reflective outcome. Educational programs change over time, and so do societal norms, technology, and communication styles. The ever-evolving landscape give people of different age a valuable chance to offer their unique insights.
At TimeXtender we’re lucky to have a group of colleagues spanning various ages. This diversity provides an opportunity for our Light Cones to tap into a wide array of insights shaped by numerous life stages and professional experiences. This blend of perspectives fosters a richer, well-rounded approach to our problem-solving.
Obviously, our company would not be able to grow and deliver without our different areas of knowledge and educational background. When we bring together individuals with expertise in computer science and engineering, technology, business, economics, and communication, we're blending a variety of perspectives into our company's core. Our computer science experts offer analytical rigor and tech know-how, while business and economics graduates contribute strategic thinking and financial insight. Similarly, our communication and marketing specialists enhance external engagement and branding efforts. This dynamic mix fosters a collaborative environment where different viewpoints intersect, challenging conventional thought and igniting creative solutions. This blend not only enhances adaptability, but also enriches our decision-making by merging quantitative analysis, qualitative insights, and clear communication.
What About Feeling Safe?
Making everyone feel safe to speak their minds can be a challenge when working remote and not seeing each other in person that often. We’re also working asynchronously, which takes some time getting used to. To make it easier, we’ve created different arenas to get to know each other.
First, we’re all assigned a buddy when we’re new at the company. That means one person that checks in with you on a regular basis and who you can always turn to for whatever questions you might have. We also have three pit stops within the first months where we can openly discuss challenges, and good experiences, of course, with HR.
Since most of us are working from home, we don’t get the chance to have those important chats by the coffee machine during the day. Instead, we have several optional “barstools” during the week, where only non-work-related chit-chat is welcomed. We’re also encouraged to invite others to virtual coffee chats with the goal of getting to know each other.
Luckily, we get to meet our colleagues in person twice a year. One of the gatherings include the whole company. In March of this year, we met in Himmerland, Denmark. This week was filled with inspiration, brainstorming, planning, and plenty of opportunities to simply connect with our fellow XPeople.
The second meet-up is with our own Light Cone. We also include a few people from other Light Cones to make sure that other than our own (somewhat similar) perceptions are considered. This is a great opportunity to evaluate the previous months of work and lay the foundation of our direction going forward. For example, establishing a strong dialogue between product developers and the marketing team is crucial to ensure that both perspectives are integrated into a cohesive strategy by the end of the week. Most importantly, we get to spend several days eating and laughing with each other, which makes it so much easier to reach out when we’re back at our home offices.
So, it’s possible to work on your own, but not feel isolated.
Unlocking Our Potential
By embracing cognitive diversity, we unlock the potential to navigate complexities, capitalize on emerging opportunities, and drive sustained growth. However, these benefits hinge on a vital element – psychological safety. It’s crucial to foster an inclusive culture that celebrates differences and encourages open conversation. Through our structured initiatives, such as our Buddy program and our informal virtual gatherings, we show that collaboration, innovation, and a shared sense of safety can flourish, even in the most distributed and dynamic workspaces. Feeling empowered and inspired -
Because Time Matters.