diversity

diversity

shelby spees's photo
shelby spees
·Feb 13, 2015·

2 min read

I would argue that diversity is inherently good. When a person is exposed to ideas outside of their experience, their mind expands a little.

Every culture, every community has positive traits. Lessons learned from going through life in particular circumstances have built unique assumptions and values. A kind of scar tissue, to reference Jason Fried:

Policies are organizational scar tissue. They are codified overreactions to unlikely-to-happen-again situations.

— Jason Fried (@jasonfried) July 21, 2009

Here Jason is specifically referring to unnecessary corporate policies, but this idea of scar tissue can apply to plenty of situations.

Maybe a better term would be calluses. Just as a seamstress has different calluses from a blacksmith, a community experiencing life one way will have different communal calluses from some other community elsewhere. If the blacksmith tried to sew, not only will she be lacking the skills and muscle memory for the task, but she’ll be hindered by hard skin built up from a lifetime of working with hot metal. It’s not that her calluses are wrong, but they make it very hard to transition to the detailed work of the seamstress.

The seamstress might see the blacksmith trying to sew and think she’s useless. Why can’t this blacksmith just do it right? Why is it so hard for her to hold the needle?

Without either party being aware, the blacksmith’s calluses assume she’ll continue doing one kind of work when she’s now doing another. And so it is with culture. A person’s culture acts as a mental callus, molding it to react to certain situations in a particular way.

When two people with differently shaped mental calluses interact, each person’s unconscious assumptions will be different. It’s not that one person is right and the other is wrong. Having assumptions isn’t a negative thing in itself. It’s just important to be aware of those assumptions in order to facilitate communication and collaboration.

And that’s where the corporate-speak starts.

 
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