It’s Time to Open Your Mind - Jacopo D’Alessandris

3 min readDec 17, 2021

Homogenous teams ‘feel’ more productive as dealing with outsiders can cause friction, which feels counterproductive.

But, what this body of research by Harvard Business Review proves is that working on diverse teams produces better outcomes precisely because it’s harder. These situations force us to think deeper and in ways that we would not on a homogenous team where everyone immediately agrees.

The stigma that working with diverse teams will be difficult makes it difficult, but when we can all collaborate together and effectively listen to one another, that is where true innovation occurs. We must open our minds to the idea of having to work harder with people who are different than us to obtain optimal results.

A study was conducted among various sororities and fraternities, where an individual was asked to solve a murder mystery, then consult their answers in homogenous groups of three. After a couple minutes a fourth member joined the groups, some of the same fraternity or sorority, some of another one. The diverse groups claimed to feel less effective and unsure of their answers.

“Intuitively, this makes sense: On a homogenous team, people readily understand each other and collaboration flows smoothly, giving the sensation of progress. Dealing with outsiders causes friction, which feels counterproductive.

“But in this case their judgments were starkly wrong. Among groups where all three original members didn’t already know the correct answer, adding an outsider versus an insider actually doubled their chance of arriving at the correct solution, from 29% to 60%. The work felt harder, but the outcomes were better.

“In fact, working on diverse teams produces better outcomes precisely because it’s harder.

“Confronting opinions you disagree with might not seem like the quickest path to getting things done, but working in groups can be like studying (or exercising): no pain, no gain.

“The research presented here suggests that diversity initiatives may not be successful until we do more to address the way diversity is perceived. When leaders see it first and foremost as a social obligation that makes things difficult and slows progress, they will likely make decisions that undermine the organization’s diversity goals. They may also, at least unconsciously, try to downplay the substance of existing diversity on their teams. If, however, leaders can recognize that the debate and unfamiliarity that come with diversity is an important catalyst for creativity and deep thinking, they will invite it and celebrate it. And very likely, the organization — and everyone in it — will reap the rewards.”

With the new year approaching, this is the perfect opportunity to change your mindset. Enter 2022 with an open mind that can value diverse perspectives. It’s time we all learn to appreciate our differences.




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