Diversity in Innovation Comes with Diversity in Many Areas Not Just Race and Gender
Diversity of thought is endless. However, in Silicon Valley and other relatively closed system this diversity is quickly vanishing and being replaced by a homogenous thought that will eventually impede progress. Silicon Valley and other centers of innovations for sure need diversity in race and gender. These two factors can affect the shape of innovation in significant ways. However, we must also consider other types of diversity that can slowly break through the trenches of the homogenous thoughts currently taking hold.
One thing we must consider is that most technical innovations for consumers are designed for the average Joe that does not think or act anything like the elite innovators in tech today. We all know and laugh at the quirks of innovators and their geekish ways. There is nothing wrong with these things since I am one of them and I like who I am. However, we must consider the target audience is not generally this way and we must find diversity of employee types that can help the technology better fit the target audience. To this day most of Google’s help pages, error messages, and other things we encounter as we use their services are clearly not written by or for normal users. Silicon Valley, and its imitators all over the world, have their own language and culture that is hard to break through. While focus groups and other testing does help shape the product for the target audience, it is also clear that a great deal of wasted time and cost is spent because the product was not created with complete understanding of the target audience since very few if any of that audience were present during its development.
The Silicon Valley Method appears to be quite open so much so that it even celebrates failure to a certain extent. It is very clinical and analytical and can see things most others miss. This is just appearance as it is quite closed to outsiders. It has trouble translating the technology to the rest of the world because it values intellect and pedigree so much. It misses out on so many other things by keeping the inner circle so homogeneous. In a later article I will expand on this thought.
There are many types of intelligence and people outside the elite schools have similar intelligence level and far more diversity of thought and life experience. Discontinuing the heavy emphasis on pedigree will help diversity immensely. Finding talent at home rather and abroad might be harder and retooling that talent to peek operation might cost a bit more, but the talent is there and it is starving for the opportunity to improve and become appreciated. Even if it comes from lower level universities and even colleges the talent exists here if we care to find it. I am a big proponent of immigration reform but I feel we have more talent than we think if we just broaden our perspective and stop emphasizing top tier universities. Malcolm Gladwell speaks to this very fact and shows how super talented people often go to lower tier universities for many reasons. The added benefit for innovation is that this particular talent comes with different perspective and are closer to the consumer mind most innovations target. They can help in diversity of culture, gender, race, and life experiences among many others.
Diversity of background is also important. Even genius engineers working on a consumer can use a multi-disciplinary team of experts to make the experience richer. In medicine this is common practice now. Technology, like medicine, has many specialties and yet they can still use disciplines that are from outside technology to produce a more rounded product faster. Experts in psychology, occupational therapy, social work, and more can be of great assistance in humanizing a product and make it more useful. So as part of the diversity, different disciplines should be considered in the development process as applicable. With today’s fast moving world where even professionals retool often, there are experts in other disciplines that have switched over and understand technology well enough to have valuable meaningful input in product design. There are also inventors and innovators from outside technology that can create technology tools and services and when being evaluated by VCs these innovators should be given the benefit of the doubt as well. After all the diversity they bring to the ecosystem will help open it up, decrease innovation oppressing homogeneity, and create even more diversity of thought!
Diversity increases innovation because diversity of thought is infinite Click to Tweet
There are many types of diversities other than gender and race, the more varied the diversity pool the better the innovation Click to Tweet
Silicon Valley must fight traditional homogeneous though which impedes innovation slowly but surely Click to Tweet
By widening our talent search we will be surprised how much talent already exists here at home that can increase our diversity pool Click to Tweet
Innovation is exponentially increased with each type of diversity that contributes to it Click to Tweet