A systems perspective on diverse teams

A culture based on varied viewpoints boosts performance, personal growth

By Paul Stanfield

Diversity on teams and in organizations, across its many dimensions, is widely recognized as a means to higher performance. High functioning diverse teams are able to produce better criteria, better alternatives, better synthesis and ultimately better solutions; and the individual members grow more. Yet diversity among team members presents challenges that might undermine the team’s efforts to be high functioning, as noted by M.L. Maznevski (Human Relations, 1994). Even the notion of diverse perspectives can cause team tension and, to many, the value of varied perspectives is vague or suspect. To provide clarity and evidence for the value of diverse teams, we will share two systems examples: a visual model and a sociological framework.

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