28 Mar Women, Men, Diversity and Creativity
What explodes creative thinking? There are dozens of suggestions available in hundreds of books and articles. But one thing is true. The more experiences you have and more information you place in that three-pound piece of gray matter called – the brain, the more punch you contribute to creative thinking. Combine that with the diversity of groupthink and you have a powerhouse of possibilities. Bring together an equal number of men and woman with different experiences in a brainstorming session and you have a gold-mine of potential. This brings me to the point of this blog.
More than two decades ago, I was hired to speak to a Fortune 500 business group about how to ignite creativity. As I stepped in front of the podium, I faced over 400 men and less than a handful of woman. I was so dumbfounded that I spoke before thinking, saying something like, “I can’t believe that you have hired me to share my expertise on creativity and, as I look out, I see less than a handful of woman. How do you explain that?” As the men looked around rather sheepishly, I proceed to give what turned out to be a dynamic presentation of Quantum Leap Thinking™ but I had ruffled a few feathers. I assumed (terrible word) that – by now – men would have wised up and embraced the power of woman’s intuition and creative thinking skills. I made that wise decision many, many years ago.
Cut to 22 years following my presentation. Yesterday, I listened to a report on how important is to have an equal combination of men and woman in a creative thinking group and how effective the results are shown to be. If I hadn’t been driving, I would have fallen off my seat. Why would it take a research project to discover what is so obvious? Is this just another example of the ‘good ole boys’ network? Or is there a genetic bias that goes back to the Stone Age? Whatever it is, I encourage every male reading this article to ramp up their thinking by making a woman their partner, bringing an equal number of women into their organization – with equal benefits. Remember that creativity is rearranging the old into the new. It’s bringing to light the unseen. It is making the invisible, visible. The more diversity you add to your group, the better your chances for unique, innovative and breakthrough ideas become.
As Steve Jobs said, “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”