Diversity is a Necessary Ingredient for Innovation

This Dr. Seuss quote speaks to the heart of innovation: diversity—of thought, of perspective, of context and experience.  Successful innovations come from diverse teams collaborating on the same problem.  This can mean cross-functional teams such as engineers working with marketers.  It can mean demographically diverse—with different gender, race or socio-economic perspectives.  

I have found that age diversity is critically important.  The boomers just don’t approach things the same way as the millennial generation and creating innovative solutions to the problems of our digital age requires the best thinking of both generations.

I got a deep lesson in this when we designed our learning experience software platform, Cafe Learn. We clearly benefited by having a broad range of perspectives with our team comprised of members in their 20s through 50s. We learned very quickly that what the boomers find intuitive is too convoluted for many millennials.  The boomers understood the fears of older instructors and the bigger picture concerns of administrators.  The millennials quickly put themselves in the shoes of students and young teachers.  And, our young UX team, brought a fresh perspective into the design of workflows.  

As a result, we innovated in small ways at every step of the design process. We found new ways to think about crowd-sourcing learning experiences.  Our designs were clean and looked familiar, but avoided the over-featured, complicated workflows of most ed-tech applications.  Most importantly, we learned that the fastest path to innovation breakthroughs is to put together a diverse team.

P.S. A diverse team is more fun, too...