In order to use the value of diversity, an inclusive (work) culture is needed. Using the eight guidelines for creating an inclusive culture, the promise of diversity (creativity, innovation, quality) can be realized. In this series, I will focus on a new guideline each week.
Guideline 1: Don’t Clone, Guideline 2: Challenge Your Truth, Guideline 3: Enjoy the Free Fall of Not Knowing, Guideline 4: Think Both/And
Diversity is a given. Inclusion is the manner in which diversity can be utilized. After you’ve met the challenges of the previous three guidelines (that is, when there is diversity, when we dare to examine our own truths, and when we can enjoy the fact that our habits are up for discussion), then it’s time to explore differences and to put them to use.
It is time to think inclusively, or, in other words, to think in terms of and/and. It is time to escape from the terror of either/or thinking. All over the world, people are struggling with the same dilemmas, and each group deals with this in its own way. According to the Dutch writer and cross-cultural communication consultant Fons Trompenaars, “culture” is the way in which we handle universal dilemmas. Diversity brings different cultures and ways of thinking together. Inclusion means we make use of opposites. To do this effectively, Trompenaars has developed the “Dilemma Reconciliation Method.” (video with speech by Trompenaars about dilemmas and social media).
The silliest thing you can do with a dilemma is to pick a side – dilemma thinking is about the combination of opposites. The results are best when each opposing pole is allowed to exist. They need to strengthen each other and keep each other in balance. A dynamic equilibrium is developed, then, in which the advantages of the opposing ideas and interests are combined. If you choose a side, then both sides lose. For example, there’s no freedom without rules. And there are no rules without freedom.
To put this fourth guideline into practice, you can continue to think about all sorts of techniques from the areas of creative thinking and problem solving. It’s all about putting prejudices aside and creating new ways of doing things.
If you’d like more inspiration about how to go about this, then I highly recommend the book This Is the And (2012) by Manfred and Victor van Doorn (in Dutch).