Over the years, too much of our Diversity and Inclusion training has come from a short-sighted focused on how to “get along” with different people and groups. While that approach has its merits, it’s not enough for today’s workplace. Using Steve Kerr’s formula of P = C – I (see earlier blog post regarding this formula), to reach higher performance, we have to actually build capacity. This is the kind of formula we need to apply to D&I work so that we are able to ensure real change both individually and organizationally. How do we do that? We use developmental tools like the DMIS that help us to understand first the stages of competence when interacting across difference and second how to increase that competence and therefore, effectiveness across difference.
P=C – I. Steve Kerr, former Chief Learning Officer at GE created this formula years ago. As with all good models or frameworks, it’s stuck and can still be applied today not only to the area of learning and development, as intended, but to so many other areas as well, including Diversity and Inclusion. The formula, Performance = Capacity – Interference, in general, means that if we want to improve the performance of our workforce, in addition to building their skills as we would traditionally do, we also need to look at what’s getting in the way for them.
Paying attention to that one additional component of Interference adds a new perspective to learning and development. But how does this apply to Diversity and Inclusion? First, the frame of Performance—I would actually say High Performance—is where we need to focus our work in the practice of D&I. Our work needs to move beyond representation and respect and needs to drive higher results for our organizations. The success and greater effectiveness that come with high performance need to be our goal. When we shift our work towards this goal, what we focus on is very different. More importantly, what we deliver for our organizations and the individuals within them will be more transformational. My next blog will be on Capacity and Interference as they relate to D&I.
Since the only other language I can speak is pidgin Hebrew, and half our office is fluent in Spanish, I decided it was time to learn that noble language. I found this video online about the Pimsleur Method and got all excited about it. For some reason I’d always thought of Pimsleur as kind of stodgy, but this was hip and entertaining, and I ended up with the message that learning a language is no big deal—anyone can do it, and even have fun at the same time. That’s what the Gen Xer in me likes to hear, so I signed up, got the introductory course, and started learning.
A few weeks later I got the follow-up course in the mail, the big guns, the Pimsleur Approach Gold Edition, and it looked anything BUT hip and entertaining. Arriving in a faux-leather box complete with a “passport” and 16 CDs, it was obviously designed to appeal to an older Boomer who wants to travel the world, either for business or pleasure. I actually had a moment of confusion when it arrived—I thought maybe it was a mistake, the second message was so radically different from the first.
The intro course had been eight CDs, though packaged in a single, thick CD case. No big deal—if I decided to go the distance, I’d just download the rest of the courses. Well, I’ve looked all over Pimsleur’s website, and I haven’t yet found a download option, and there’s no way I’m going to try and jam a box full of CDs in my car somewhere. That’s why we have MP3 players, right? Also, I know at least two Gen Yers, interested in both language and travel, who would look at this box and say, “I don’t even have a CD player; what am I supposed to do with this?” Good question. I don’t think Pimsleur knows, either.
This is a classic example of an organization trying to reach out to a diverse group of consumers with no integrated strategy to deal with the differences involved. It’s good to diversify your customer base; in fact, it’s necessary. But organizations that don’t recognize the fundamentals of interacting effectively across difference are only going to alienate those they’re trying to reach in the first place. Effective organizations allow the differences to guide the message or, as a recent participant in a discussion on Public Radio said recently: “You’ve got to let the customer tell you how they want their message delivered.” Amen.
We are going to Puerto Rico for the International Society of Diversity and Inclusion Professionals first annual conference April 23-27, 2012. Sara Taylor will be presenting the session, From Best to Better Practice: Moving beyond Inclusion to Create Higher Performance. Will you be there?
I think we deserve some credit. We in the Diversity and Inclusion profession have taken an unknown, unidentified practice and shaped it into a discipline that adds incredible value to our organizations and we’ve done that in just a few decades! Yet, as a young profession, I think we have a long way to go to reach our full potential. There is much that is yet to be solidified, researched, discovered or invented, which creates an exciting environment for us.
So, how do we get there? We take full advantage of the few opportunities to network, learn and question together with our D&I peers, particularly at conferences like the Multicultural Forum happening this week in Minneapolis, MN. We need to squeeze events like this dry and come away satiated with new information and perspectives. deepSEE has been involved in this particular conference for over a decade and I can’t speak highly enough of it. If you plan to attend, join us at our booth in the resource fair or at our session, “From Best to Better: New Practices for Organizational Success across Difference” on Thursday afternoon.