Sep 282010
the need for diversityThe power that Knowledge Management (KM) brings to an organization is its ability to leverage the power of diversity. I am not speaking of just diversity of race, gender and/or religion, but diversity of thought.

Through collaboration, knowledge sharing, and knowledge reuse it is important to leverage different points of view, different experiences and different cultural backgrounds to stimulate diversity of thought. This diversity of thought leads to innovation. This innovation will enable organizations to deliver unique and or improved products and services to its customers as well as improve the way the organization does business.

Diversity of thought is encouraged and utilized today in the push by corporations to support Board Diversity in expanding the makeup of their corporate boards, through Affirmative Action programs to promote a diverse workforce and through a myriad of organizations that understand that diversity of thought will improve everything from our educational system, healthcare system, create new jobs, and improve how our politicians work together!

Communities of Practice (CoP) is a tool utilized within KM which provide environments where people can collaborate, catalog, and reuse knowledge centered around a certain topic, practice area, or profession, to name a few. This community will bring “like minded” people together regardless of their race, gender and/or religion to stimulate thought, exchange ideas and learn for each other. All focused on innovation, and improving performance. The need for diversity of thought will continue to be a catalyst for our culture to improve the way we live, work and play. I welcome everyone to share their stories where this diversity is happening, where it should be happening and where it has been successful or not!

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  6 Responses to “The Need for Diversity”

  1. I like the new look btw. Since technology is so democratizing I am seeing a lot of diversity in the tech startup crowd. If you are super driven and like technology, you are part of us.

  2. Very interesting point! As a Japanese, we don’t view diversity in terms of race and/or religion. Depending upon the generation it does mean gender, mainly with the older generation of business leaders. Outside of the older generation, in terms of diversity, philosophy of ideas and education/social backgrounds is what we consider diversity. How we view diversity gives us the Japanese and other Asian countries an advantage or the rest of the world markets. It is the leveraging our diversity that our knowledge is gleaned and innovation is achieved. One area of weakness that Asian cultures suffer from is the diversity of race, since in our countries are not the “melting pot” as you Americans often call yourselves.

    Dr. Rhem I have enjoyed your blog and would like to thank our mutual friend for sharing this blog with me. You do have a following her in Japan.

    M. Genda

  3. M. Genda, I thank you for your comments. It is interesting to know that because of the lack of diversity in race and/or religion the Japanese culture focuses on the heart of what collaboration is about: diversity of philosophy, ideas and thought. Once we move past the barriers that race and religion often brings, our diversity of race and religion will enrich our collaborative experience and bring about the innovation that we seek!

    AJ Rhem

  4. Hello Dr. Rhem! I’m a great admirer of your work-both present and past. I’m very proud to know you personally…you are truly motivating.

    J. Kay Uzzell

  5. Thank you for the clarity you bring to this topic. It’s a complex area and i have to admit I get lost in the nuances more often than not.

    Cognitive diversity, most agree, is a condition that facilitates innovation. Having a group that includes a rich mix of backgrounds, experiences and mental models nourishes ideas and solutions that may not be thought of by a group of like minded individual.

    The challenge seems to be that sometimes the groups that naturally form around a problem tend to be like-minded. And the folks that have the power to create groups tend to purposefully or unconscionably select group members that think like they do.

    How can we test for the diversity within a group? Age, race and culture are becoming poor indicators in our connected world.

    If a group is large enough the issue probably become irrelevant, the diversity will be there but what about in smaller groups that hold the (sometimes) necessary local knowledge? How do we ensure diversity of thought or at least attempt to include?

  6. Jamie, thank you for your comments.
    I agree that in smaller groups it will be difficult to obtain a rich diversity of participants around a topic. In the case of creating groups it is essential to let the groups grow organically and not select or force participation.
    One technique I found that works to create diversity around a topic is to hold a Knowledge Cafe around one or more topics. To understand how to conduct Knowledge Café, access the following link on David Gurteen’s site: as well as see my latest blog post when it becomes available. I look forward to hearing more from you.

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