The diversity of doing

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When I am scouting for talent I lead with the belief in diversity, in all ways – race, gender, discipline, thought etc. – because it makes for a better, more creative, compelling and competitive organizations. Somewhere in that principle there is an assumption that the person gets things done, since people that don’t are unlikely candidates. It occurs to me, now reflecting upon a momentous year of doing that its not enough to simply get things done. Getting things done just demonstrates a person’s ability to work their work. More important than getting things done is what and how they decided to get it done. Evidence of this level of thought and engagement can be found in the variety of experiences an individual has especially if they do not set the direction for their organization.

It’s estimated that the average human has 60,000 thoughts a day. This is not surprising. What is disconcerting is that 90% of the thoughts you have today are the ones you had yesterday. Deepak Chopra, M.D.

Ever since I read this passage as a teenager one of my goals was to do better than repeating 90% rethink. One way I tried to accomplish this was to be endlessly curious about anything and everything. I carefully investigated, considered and questioned what appeared to be an unrelated set of interests. Of course, I was the rhyme to my reason knitting together my evolving point of view and discovering what makes me tic.

Experiences in doing are not only tied to a person’s day job. In fact what someone is interested in on the side is often more interesting than the remarkable but expected accomplishments of talented professionals. For me, this year launched a new chapter in my family with the arrival of my daughter in August.  She is currently amazed by her hands, that they are useful and more recently that they are her own. Babies may be sponges, learning all the time, but parents are blessed with the opportunity to learn as well in a deep and personal ways. Sleepless nights are rewarded with knowing how precisely delicate a baby’s breath can be – subtly sweet and endlessly delicious. Our daughter gets the majority of our attention and in turn the things we use to make time for get brutally prioritized (Did you notice the gap in posts!). It also drives a new level of communication and compromise as mother and father work as a team to ensure things get done despite the competing desires.

Recently I was on a three month assignment to a large customer in the healthcare industry working through what cloud computing could mean for their business. This was an opportunity to diversify – as a professional and as a family. Sadie was just old enough to travel and my wife was on maternity leave – off to California we went. I had the luxury of working full time as part of the customer, leveraging my connections into IBM to help drive value. From first day to last it was endless learning about the good, bad and ugly from some very special people. It has irreversibly changed my understanding and insight – a priceless experience. For my family it was an adventure trying out a different land and experiencing the time warp of not being in Eastern Standard Time. Points of view are relative to the perceiver and it helps to be reminded how fragile that “reality” is.

We settled on a great area of Oakland called Rockridge. It reminded us of Brooklyn – strategically located with more diversity in people, food and shopping. It also came with stadium seating of the Occupy Oakland dance and what seemed like daily violence. California in general seems to need to go to driver education. On any given morning a mostly sober population of motoring public gets into no less than half a dozen accidents on the major roadways. I know there are a lot of people etc. but have you seen the size of these roads?! Like anything there are many contributing reasons, but it begs the question as to why a place has such an impact on its people – so is true in the workplace.

If diversity of doing is a desirable element in developing greater talent and creating remarkable teams then there too is a responsibility to create a climate and environment to enable such performance. One without the other is having this amazing thing called a hand, but not knowing its yours.