Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Building a Diverse Global team-A summary

To reiterate the considerations when building a  global team they are 1) Where are the business "centers of gravity" need a local presence 2)  Team members need to be proficient- competent and knowledgeable 3)  Look for a range of work experiences 4) A gender mix is preferred 5) Pick complementary personalities.  To the extent you can satisfy these criteria, you have a good chance of achieving the diverse thinking that is the real goal of a diverse leadership team.
With that said, achieving diverse thinking on a team requires a second level of analysis.  It's quite possible that even satisfying those considerations, you might not achieve the degree of diverse thinking you  desire. Why?  First of all, we all have a tendency to pick people in whom we can see ourselves.  While the "above the waterline" indicators might appear very diverse, "below the waterline" people may be very similar.  Second, some company cultures are so strong  they "homogenize" the workforce. After initial recruitment, those who adapt to the culture tend to stay and those who don't either self-select out or are selected out.  Third, some company cultures are dominated by similar training and experience that can yield common approaches to similar problems.   While this is not a bad thing in and of itself, it can lead to group-think and difficulty in innovation.
So how can a leader insure their team has diverse thinking or at least be aware of gaps they may have? In the example I gave yesterday of the original Mercury astronauts, they were given a personality inventory test with 600 questions.  They were required to do a "Who Am I" exercise where they had to answer that question 20 times without repeating an answer. They also did Rorschach inkblot tests.  The data from these responses were used not to achieve seven astronauts who were exactly alike but to insure they weren't. Most of us in business these days don't have the resources or time or need to be that precise in our team selections.  There are some tools, however, which can help us understand the thinking styles on a team. The Meyers-Briggs type indicator has been around for a long time and can be very useful.  I've also used the Belbin Team roles instrument.  I-OPT is an instrument that measures how team members process information.  I'd recommend using one of these instruments to deepen team awareness about individual members thinking styles and preferences.  To varying degrees they can expose gaps and highlight risks that global teams teams face.

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