Consensus is supposedly a good thing. But, sometimes, for those running meetings, it’s helpful to have diverse perspectives in order to create the best solutions. Consensus should only be a goal after a variety of diverse ideas are explored.
The problem is that some fields are filled with people who share similar thinking styles. The left-brain types are drawn towards certain industries and functions (accounting, engineering, etc.), just as the right- brainers are drawn towards certain industries and functions (design, theater, etc). This comes as no surprise, yet while I recently stood in front of a room filled with smart left-brain types, I encountered a new layer of homogeneity - sex. Yes, this right-brain male was facilitating a room full of left-brain women.
Needless to say, while working that kind of double-dipped homogeneity, consensus comes quick, and you can find shared views, insights and experiences in every corner. In my opinion, this is not a good thing. Divergence is rich, and much richness is found in exploring differences.
So, I began asking myself, “How can I help this homogeneous group bring diverse views into the room?” “How can I help this homogeneous group avoid furthering it’s insular perspectives?” The answer was to ask highly irreverent, and relevant questions. Here are a few of the questions I keep in my back pocket to get homogeneous groups thinking more out of the box:
How would Albert Einstein understand this issue?
If Salvador Dali were here, what would he say?
What would Madonna do?
What tool would Steve Jobs have designed to solve this?
If this problem was a dessert, what sort of dessert would it be?
By leveraging creativity we can help ourselves, our departments, our groups, our industries more clearly see the water we are swimming in. When an industry, organization, department, team or function is homogeneous, it can risk missing out on the richness that comes with diverse perspectives.
If you find yourself with your homogeneous cohort, I encourage you to expand the perspectives in the room by asking what "outsiders" would see, do and think if they were in the group. Oh, and have a fun doing it!