Tag Archive for: Diversity

Apple

Neuroinclusive workplace – moving from awareness to action

When I was growing up we had a fruit bowl that was often filled with all sorts of different fruits, oranges, apples, mangoes, pineapples and sometimes even passionfruit. Now imagine a fruit bowl that is just full of apples and no other fruits are allowed. If another fruit wants to come into the fruit bowl it has to look like an apple, taste like an apple and be in the right shape to be considered an apple. Now I would argue many of our workplaces look like the fruit bowl and only have apples. This is true when it comes to the neuroinclusive workplace. I would also argue that we spend a lot of time trying to make oranges look like apples, when actually they make far better oranges!

Welcome to the reality of the homogenous workplace.

Diversity matters and it has a positive impact on the bottom line:

  • report by Deloitte found that 69 % of executives reported diversity is an important issue.
  • When studying how diversity and employee engagement affected performance Gallup found that, “the combination of [high] employee engagement and gender diversity resulted in 46% to 58% higher financial performance.”
  • In a similar study drawing a connection between performance and diversity, Boston Consulting Group “found that companies with above-average total diversity had both 19% higher innovation revenues and 9% higher EBIT margins, on average.”
  • McKinsey insights found businesses that have more women in executive positions are 25% more likely to earn more.
  • McKinsey found that in their Diversity Wins report “Companies in the top quartile for both gender and ethnic diversity are 12% more likely to outperform all other companies in the data set.”

Much of the research to date has centred around gender and racial diversity within organisations. What is clear from indicative evidence is that neurodiversity matters in solving problems and moving organisations forward in innovation. This has the benefit of also increasing profitability and operational effectiveness.

the neuroinclusive workplace

Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing in a neuroinclusive workplace

I believe we need to accept that making the neuroinclusive workspace a reality involves going through the steps of forming, storming, norming, and performing, like the formation of any team because the neuroinclusive workspace is about forming a team in a different way.

Awareness, I would argue sits at the forming stage. What we now need to do is step forwards into the storming, which can often involve deep and challenging conversations.

What is not always clear is how to go about the storming. Some insight can be gained from neurodiverse hiring programs to attract subsets of neurodivergent individual traits, for example, a focus on autism and the perceived benefits of hyperfocus. These on the surface are often great programs but they can fail to fully realise the benefits of neurodivergent thinking across the organisation. There is also the other resounding issue of individuals who find out about their neurodivergent traits later on in their careers, potentially after changing roles or a reorganisation. This can have a negative impact on the organisation and its effectiveness to achieve its goals.

Where does the neuroinclusive workplace fit within your organisation?

What is often also poorly understood is the reality of different thinking styles intersected with everything else that is going on in an individual’s life and how that can positively affect an organisation’s performance. As you can see throughout this piece we are talking about generalisations of conditions and assumptions. What’s more important is to consider the individuals that are involved. When we consider this it becomes obvious that this is about relationships and understanding. One of the most effective ways to make this happen is by getting individuals who have neurodivergent traits together with leaders so they can have frank and open conversations. The focus of these conversations could be on how to use their skills collaboratively together to help the organisation gain the benefits and innovative potential of neurodivergent thinking.

This is more than just a coffee, it must be a conversation that has structure and ground rules so that both parties can learn from each other and start to form an understanding of the strengths and difficulties that they face.

If this is a conversation that you’d like to start within your organisation and you need help to make it work please contact me.

Person Reading - The Medici effect book review

The Medici effect book review

The name ‘The Medici effect’ is taken from the ‘The House of Medici’ an Italian banking and political family that funded and supported innovations in art, finance, and music. These innovations included ideas ranging from double-entry bookkeeping, Opera to the piano.

What jumped out to me was:

This is an important book that explores why we need to look at the intersections between different siloed disciplines to see breakthroughs. The book goes on to help us explore how looking at the same problem from various places gives new insight and discovery.

I also really enjoyed the way the author brought to light why diversity is essential in this process, as diverse thinkers bring not only themselves to the problem but also their network of contacts and relationships.

There is also some wonderful thinking about the quantity and quality of ideas. My key takeaway is that it’s important to have a good quantity of ideas so you can pick the quality ones. This type of thinking has been used by many successful characters including Alexander Graham Bell and Richard Branson.

Operating at the intersection as the author describes it is a fantastic place though slightly scary at times. What it gives you is the opportunity to create innovative ideas and new spaces with the threshold for success often lower because no one else is operating there.

Think about it, if you want to become the very best in your field you have to compete with everyone who has gone before you and everyone who is trying to do it now. If you want to achieve something at the intersection you may be the only person or team in that field so your bar to success is far lower.

I believe neurodivergent individuals naturally gravitate towards the intersection of different fields and ideas.

Why read this book?

It’s insightful, engaging, has been a bestseller for a number of years and has been included in many academic programs. If you take on board what is written it will change your attitude to innovation and potentially increase your opportunity for success.

This is my take on The Medici Effect. It would be great to hear your thoughts.

diversity is being invited to the dance

Neurodiversity – Is being invited to ‘The Party’

Paul Bright lived alone, and he wanted to plant his annual crop of runner beans in his veggie patch. He was getting old and finding it very difficult to work the patch. His only son John used to help him, but he was behind bars doing 10 years in Broadmoor maximum security prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described what was going on: “Dear John, it looks like I won’t be able to get my runner beans in this year. I’m getting far too old to dig the ground. I know if you were here you would help me. I know you would be happy to dig the ground, just like in the old days. Love you, dad.” A few days later the old man received this from his son: “Dear Dad, don’t dig up the allotment! That’s where the bodies are buried. Love John.” At 2 AM the next morning, officers from Northampton’s murder investigation unit arrived and dug up the entire back garden without finding any bodies. They apologised to the old man and left. The same day the old man received another letter from his son, “Dear Dad, you can get on with planting the beans now. That was the best I could do under the circumstances. All my love, John.”

 “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein

Although John met his dad’s needs in an unorthodox way, I do think this story illustrates the fact that we need to approach individual situations differently. We must think outside the box with diversity as ironically neurodiversity is all about thinking differently and embracing unique styles and ways of doing stuff.

To do this well there must be an invitation for people to be their most effective at work.

So where does diversity start?

Diversity starts with how we greet people into our organisations and make it okay for them to ask for adjustments. This is more than just window dressing, it is about making it part of our culture that it is okay to ask for what we need. To ensure that each person is treated as an individual this process always needs to start with a conversation.

With neurodiversity and other hidden disabilities, individuals may have a history that means they are uncomfortable about sharing what they need. They may take some convincing that it is safe to do so within the organisation they’re working in. This could be due to several reasons including bullying, earlier work cultures or the fact that when they’ve asked for support before it has been refused or made so difficult that they don’t want to engage in the process again. There is also the possibility that an individual may not be aware that there is anything wrong until something changes in their work environment that highlights the difficulty.

What is key in all of this is the invitation for support and that the organisation including colleagues, managers and support functions is actively looking to support individuals to show and celebrate the power of neurodiversity.

Coming back to the conversation, diversity starts with asking questions about the following areas:

  • What do they think they need to bet their best at work?
  • What have they found helpful or would like to try?
  • What has worked well for them previously?
  • What makes things more difficult at work?
  • Who do they need to talk to to make these discussions effective?

What is also important to consider is the role and work environment. Think about things like:

  • What aspects of the role may be more challenging for them than others?
  • What could be done to overcome these challenges?
  • What environmental changes could be helpful to support work routines.

This is of course just the starting point and should be used to get the conversation going. The diversity conversation is built around trust and best intentions. Without this, it is all a waste of time, we need to want people to be their very best and most effective at work. If people feel threatened or endangered, they are unlikely to perform at their best and be unwilling to discuss this topic.

If you have not already, I would encourage you to start having these kinds of conversations in your organisation.

If you need help with this?

Please get in contact.

Find out how this links with my blog about Equality.

Tightrope walker equality and neurodiversity

What does equality and neurodiversity mean?

Jean Francois Gravelot “The Great Blondin” was the first person to tightrope walk across Niagara Falls quarter-mile gap. He was not just content with crossing the gap once, he did it over 300 times and each time pushed himself to a new level of difficulty. This included cooking an omelette in the middle, sitting down, and lowering a rope to collect a bottle of wine from the ‘Maid of the mist’ boat below and even carrying his manager on his back.

On one occasion he crossed with a wheelbarrow to the rapturous applause of the crowd. On reaching one side he approached a Royal party who were watching him and asked if one of them would like to make the trip inside the wheelbarrow. He was declined, so he asked the crowd if anyone else would like to make the crossing in the wheelbarrow and no one spoke up except for one small old woman. He crossed successfully with her in the wheelbarrow to rapturous applause. It was reported later that this woman was his mother.

Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.

Vernā Myers

Before we can even begin to engage in such feats as Jean achieved at Niagara, we first need the opportunity to get involved. That means being able to take part and in the words of Vernā Myers being asked to dance. I would like to take this further though and explore what it takes to get to the point where you can dance like nobody’s watching.

Because diversity is about being asked to take part, equity is about having the transport to get there, inclusion is about being asked to get involved and equality is performing like no one is watching.

Diversity – is being invited to ‘The Party’

For equality and neurodiversity to be a reality this is a statement of intent for neurodivergent individuals.

It is about knowing that you can bring your best self to the situation you are working on. What is important is that this is not a half-hearted attempt at inclusivity but instead a concerted effort to invite those that think differently to the table. This is not one of those invites when you say you want people to come, but you do not expect them to turn up! Find out more here.

Equity – is having proper transport to get there

This is more than just supplying a bus or tightrope but instead supplying proper transport for the individuals that have been invited. For neurodivergent individuals, this is about thinking about the environment in terms of the tools that are supplied and the way things are done. For example, it could be about creating quiet spaces or supplying assistive technology tools. The key thing is that places are created where people feel safe and equipped to perform.

Understanding the guidelines (or where the rope is) for your workplace and having it made clear is vital. Find out more here.

Inclusion – is being asked to participate

To be included you need to be invited and have the tools and environment to be present. Being asked to take part shows the value that you are placing on the person you are asking. Asking them to take part because you see their strengths and know that they can add value is vital. Inclusion is not a display, it is about mutual benefit and creating places that allow the individual to walk the most difficult tight ropes.

Equality and neurodiversity – performing like no one is watching

Equality and Neurodiversity is about creating a level playing field where individuals get to use their skills and competencies in great ways. It is a place where creativity explodes, and innovation is paramount that can only be realised if you can bring your full neurodivergent self to work. It is about challenging and being okay with offering insight without fear and recognising the value that you can bring whilst encouraging the potential you see in others.

This is only possible if diversity, equity, and inclusion are present then equality and neurodiversity works!

Neurodiversity and neurodivergent thinking are hot topics. There are many ways to approach this area. I would encourage you to think deeply about how you can utilise the great potential these thinking skills can offer to your organisation. If you would like some help or just a conversation to explore this further, please get in contact.