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Yard – Diversity of Thought in The Workplace

23rd May 2019 by Shannon Reilly | Content

How different skill backgrounds lead to diversity of thought

Yardies come from all walks of life, with wide-ranging experience  – former Bollywood film extras, chefs, professional football and ice hockey players are all on our payroll.  Our team have varying academic backgrounds too, from creative degrees in drama, journalism and photography to more serious study routes such as history and criminology. For a digital agency specialising in data, content and search, our CVs show that there are multiple routes to being technical marketing experts.

We’ve found that this unique blend of passions, perspectives and experiences is what makes us stronger.  But what exactly do we mean by that? We’ll guide you through how building a team with diverse skills and backgrounds can lead to enhanced ideation, delivery and innovation. In other words, diversity of thought.

Stirring the creative pot

If conformism is one of the biggest killers of creativity, then deviating from the ordinary is key. Now, we’re not suggesting employees just start doing what they want. Rather, that hiring from a diverse range of backgrounds can foster originality, authenticity and creative spirit. Not only does this help with idea generation for campaigns and content, but it makes for more innovative problem-solving, particularly when data is involved.

Case in point is the solution we came up with for a national chain of casinos and bingo halls. We helped them understand how the proximity of website visitors to their venues affected website usage so they could create targeted campaigns and dynamic content. A perfect mix of data and creativity, backed up by the diversity of thought we encourage at Yard.

The phrase “diversity of thought” has gained traction in recent years following Deloitte’s 2013 publication Diversity’s New Frontier – Diversity of Thought and The Future of The Workforce. The report found harnessing diversity of thought within an organisation “helps increase the scale of new insights”. The report proposes that the best way to do to this is to “hire differently, manage differently, and promote differently.”

Leveraging your team’s unique talents

Each team member has a wealth of unique life experiences that determine how they interpret information and complete tasks. By challenging the status quo and inviting different talents to the conversation, you’re disrupting the usual go-to solutions and welcoming new ways of working.

To do this, you need to identify each individual’s unique thinking strategies. What does each team member bring to the table – consider both experience and education – and how can it be utilised.

For us, this manifests itself in creative campaign ideas and data solutions. For example, when working on our campaign around the history of Scottish football, it was natural that our biggest football fans worked on the research and compiling the information. However, the input of the technical specialists and those that have more of an eye for the visual (but significantly less interest in football) had just as valuable an input as they were able to bring the information to life, based on their talents and perspective. So, how can you leverage your team’s talents and harness their full potential?

There are many tools available to help assess how your team works together. The Belbin Test gives you invaluable insight into particular skills present in your team and how these merge to create a force to be reckoned with.  This is less about putting people in boxes and more about celebrating their innate talents. From the dreamers and creative types who think big and broaden horizons, to the analytical minds who apply substance and depth  – having people who contribute in different ways reinforces your team dynamic and benefits your company as a whole.

The MBTI framework identifies personal preferences and how they function within a wider team setting. This allows for an objective analysis of whether there’s synergy and helps businesses identify skill gaps.

The Blueprint’s candid Truth about Talent reports diligent recruitment is an essential part of building a winning team and that companies should assess, not on the past, but on the future potential of any candidate to allow original thinking to flourish.

The report states: “Before you hire anyone, ensure that you’ve created a structure that will empower their fresh thinking rather than stifle it. Hiring one person from a tech startup isn’t going to transform your business; creating tools and processes that will let that person thrive, will.”

When hiring and promoting, consider someone on the long-term transferable skills that they can bring to your organisation.

Wilder Thoughts Neon Sign

Authenticity – strengths lie in our differences

By fostering a culture of diverse thought, you allow each employee to feel comfortable, in turn encouraging them to be authentic. We’re not talking about having full-blown debates in the workplace, but ideas sessions that encourage people to voice their opinions and ensure work is completed with passion.

This helps individuals develop a level of self-awareness in their ability to contribute to the company’s overall mission. Not only do they feel appreciated for original thinking, but it also helps them realise they are integral to the team. This level of free thought and expression encourages even more knowledge sharing. By taking this approach, organisations can also begin to align individuals to certain tasks or projects by the way they think.

As an organisation specialising in data, content and search solutions, our bread and butter is our diversity of thought – the different passions, perspectives and experience everyone contributes.

How to increase diversity of thought

Make the most of your talent and future-proof your business by:

  • Identifying the gaps within a team, with a view to recruiting a new employee(s)  if required
  • Put in place a rigorous interview process which can uncover MBTI types, such as whether a person prefers action over careful planning, or structure over uncertainty
  • Attract and retain talent by offering a safe, encouraging working environment
  • Improve culture in the workplace – and let your employees become brand advocates

Try this and watch your teams come up with more creative, stronger and innovative ideas. Not only that, but thought diversity could help your company become a global leader on this new frontier of creative thinking.

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