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Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Spice of Life

How is it that variety is the spice of life, and yet diversity is often viewed as a concept that causes strife?

I have blogged before about diversity (see https://joanneeven.wordpress.com/2010/09/26/what-makes-the-world-go-round/) in response to a class session on culture and discrimination where I discussed efforts to insert myself into environments that were demographically diverse.  This, I suppose, is the “usual” category of differences people think of when talking about diversity — gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, etc.  It was interesting for me to read Levi’s chapter on diversity and think of that concept in terms of psychological and organizational diversity.  I wonder if I am as open to seeking out opportunities to surround myself with those types of diversity?

Psychological diversity, as described in Levi, includes values, beliefs, and attitudes; personality, cognitive, and behavioral styles; and knowledge, skills, and abilities.  I’ll start with the latter grouping since that seems the easiest to address.  I wondered recently if I was becoming less smart and then quickly realized that instead I seemed to be surrounded by a lot of really smart people.  My parents raised me to see myself as “smarter than the average bear,” but between the intelligence I find in my classmates and the collective brain power of my work colleagues, I wonder if I can claim to be smarter anymore.  While it can be intimidating at times, I do enjoy being in the company of those from whom I can learn so much.

Next, I turn to my close friends to see if I can pass the test of inclusiveness in the other areas of psychological diversity.  While I find some differences, I have to admit, I do seem to have a “similar-to-me” approach with my friends, with one major area of difference.  A good number of my friends believe strongly in “meant to be” whereas I subscribe to what I call the theory of random chaos.  This often leads me to have a more cynical approach to life than they do, but we don’t let that get in the way of our friendship.

I find I have trouble recognizing the traits that are listed as organizational diversity as being meaningful differences to me, but maybe that comes from my background in marketing which, to be successful at, necessitates me to be able to work with people across an organization including product development, sales, customer services, information technology, and legal & compliance as well as all levels of management.  However, I have seen instances of discrimination within an organization between the “top” and “bottom” levels as well as between departments, and it has always struck me as extremely unproductive, short-sighted, and sometimes just plain silly.

Levi offers better communication as a tool to combat the conflicts found in diverse groups.  My hope is that my marketing communications background and relative openness to variety will help me in my efforts to lead or facilitate groups I work with who don’t view diversity as the spice of life.  An ambitious hope, I know, but even in my theory of random chaos, things can sometimes work out like I plan.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2011 in ADLT 612

 

Fab Four Evaluation

I guess it didn’t really surprise me that our Dyer’s Team Development Questionnaire was so “boring.”  The general agreement within the group is how we’ve operated all semester long.  Where we did have differences in our ratings, all responses were still in the “above average” category or, should I say, in the “fabulous” category.

When we had our team discussion about the survey results, we started with the questions where we didn’t have 100% agreement, and it was interesting that though it was usually just one person who “deviated” from the majority answer, even after discussion I was not always able to determine who the outlier was.  Then we talked about the questions where we all gave the same answers, and I think that ended up being a more interesting discussion because we talked a great deal about the last in-person meeting we had for our second presentation.  One member had voiced a concern during that working session that she was still feeling like we were missing something, a concern I think we all had but had not wanted to say.  The rest of us felt that we’d exhausted the possibilities for finding that missing piece, and that the rest of our presentation was “strong enough” that we could still make a good showing.  But thanks to the tenacity of this team member, we turned good into better.  With her leadership, we found another activity to demonstrate our topics, and as a team we determined the best way to integrate it into the rest of the presentation.

This episode demonstrated many of the qualities of teams tested in the Dyer Questionnaire including feeling free to express reservations and concerns, getting out and using everyone’s ideas, and sharing leadership. It also illustrated the trust that we’ve created through team cohesion that allowed the one team member to voice her concern, and it demonstrated the Paradox of Intimacy in that the rest of us had been reluctant to voice our concern because we’d all felt that we had failed in our attempts to find that missing piece.  For me, there was also the first instance of inter-group tension in this class because I felt the subconscious pressure of having seen the presentations of the first two teams. 

Overall, I think we have a very high-functioning team, and so far that’s kept us in line with meeting our stated goals of learning to perform effectively as a group, learning from each other, and becoming a cohesive group.  Mission accomplished!

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2011 in ADLT 612