Diversity, Inclusion and Innovation - 3 minute read

I am often asked to outline the process of innovation. Though the question is more like, “How do I innovate?” While there are many theories about how to be innovative my favorite answer is to biomimic your brain.

Biomimic means to mimic a biological process. In this case that means mimicking the way your brain comes up with innovative ideas. And that means that innovation is all about diversity and inclusion.

The way your brain can see the signal through the noise is by setting up a dialogue between ten different brain regions. I could name them but then you’d never finish this post. Instead let’s look at what these diverse regions do.

Error prediction, future prediction, personal memory, historical memory, empathy, interpreting physical sensation, reflective self awareness, associating contexts, what other people believe, alternative options, decisions in dynamic environments, language, math, narrative. 

As you can see, your brain’s innovative process is all about the inclusion of a diversity of regions. So when people ask me how to be innovative my answer is to mimic that.

First is the diversity part. This is all about having many people in the room. Here are some suggestions.

  • Experts, of course.
  • People with adjacent concerns: marketers, financial folks, operations, manufacturing, legal. 
  • People with historical knowledge of the space.
  • People with experience in other industries.
  • People with the finger on the pulse of culture, movies, books, politics.
  • People who know nothing about what you’re doing: interns, friends, people who work in the kitchen.
  • Children, if you can. They force you to be clear and don’t think in a box.
  • Traditional diversity, women, people of color, older people.

Next is the inclusion part. How do you make sure all these different voices are heard? 

Your brain lets all the different regions engage only when the executive function is offline or busy with something else. In other words your brain achieves inclusion by getting status out of the room. There’s no boss. 

There are a number of tools you can use to achieve this while still having the boss, or leaders, in the room. See my post on inclusion tools. 

Judah Pollack