DIVERSITY WINS BIG AT FIRST TIME EVER RED BULL HACKATHON

The first article this week is from Forbes. It’s by Matt Hunkler. It’s talking about the Red Bull Hackathon that took place a little over a week ago. There was a bunch of college teams that came together, and their assignment/responsibility was to come up with the most innovative music product using a ton of different technology that was provided by a bunch of different companies. The point of this article is how the teams came up with the variety of different ideas, but the focus is really that the winning team was actually the most diverse team. It was the only team that had a female on it. I think there were 8 or 10 teams of 5 people, so there are 40 or 50 people at this hackathon. And she is the only female on any of the teams, and it turns out, she was part of the winning team. This was the only team—there were teams that had members from different colleges, but this was the only team that actually had different members from colleges outside of the Bay Area. They had some people from Carnegie Melon as well as Pittsburgh. So this team that’s the most diverse has the only female member, it’s got folks from a variety of different colleges. They’re the ones that actually win. He talks through a lot of the groups that are trying to focus on the need for more diversity in tech. Girls Who Code, those types of organizations. The article gets into that. There are a couple of links that talk about it. It also links to the Scientific American paper that we talked about 3-4 weeks that talked about the importance of diversity. But here you can actually see it. I think that’s why I really like this article so much because he lays it out. There’s a Hackathon, they have 48 hours to come up with something. Everybody has the same technology from different companies. The team that is the most diverse is the one that wins. So definitely check out that article. It’s well written and short and gets to the point. And it has some great links to it as well.

BUSINESSES NEED TO TALK ABOUT DIVERSITY

The second article from this week that I wanted to highlight is from Fast Company and it’s talking about how businesses need to talk about diversity. I was (actually by the second or third paragraph) struck by something. I’ve often stressed the idea that diversity is just better for the bottom line. A more diverse team, a more diverse company gets you better profits. It just helps with the bottom line. They actually took the tact of saying, “well, in tech” but the tech industry is generally profitable. I don’t know how true that is, but basically, the point is that it is more profitable than a different industry. What it talks about is why businesses need to stress the need for diversity besides just talking about the bottom line.  They go through some research that has shown that in society when the society itself is more diverse, it is, as a result, stronger and more resilient. And so this idea is basically you apply it to your company. If you have a more diverse company, you’re going to be stronger, you’re going to be more resilient.

Then they touch on this idea of this word I’ve never heard of; it’s called allophilia. And what that means is basically is in an organization, having a positive attitude and not just a tolerant attitude. I’m sure many of you have sort worked at a company that sort of pledged or talked about diversity and really was—there’s a line between what it diversity meaning “I will be tolerant” and what is diversity like. This research was showing the need to actually have positive attitudes. And the reason is that when people (and they talk about this a couple of times in the article) feel like they can bring their entire self to work, everything that sort of makes them up, you have open communications, you have a better organization that feels like they are growing together. Who wouldn’t want to work at a place like that?

The third point that this article talks about is how when you have a diverse group of people, obviously that’s a good start for coming up with innovate ideas, but one of the things that they reference (that some research shows) is leaders—a lot of the time what happens is decisions are made through domination or compromise. So an idea is forced through or it’s just a watered down version so that everybody comes to a conclusion. And they actually said that stifles innovation and is not innovative. So they came up with three ideas of when you have a diverse team, this is the approach that you need to have in order to be innovative. They talked about creative abrasion, which was sort of through discourse and discussion; you come up with an innovative idea. Creative agility, which if you read the definition, it sounds like a lean approach. So you’re very quick to test things, you can sort of pivot very quickly, and you learn very quickly. It sounds exactly like lean approach. And then creative resolution which is basically combining two ideas that seem opposite or not related and coming up with a solution. There’s a deeper link in there to the specific research. I believe it’s from HBR. It was an interesting article because we’ve talked more than once about this idea that diversity is better for your bottom line, and this article is taking the tact that just saying that is effective, but it’s not as effective as also pushing these other thoughts.