This article is written for business executives, managers, team leaders, and HR specialists who recognize the importance of employee creativity and corporate innovation for competing in today’s marketplace, and wish to maximize it in their companies. The article explores the relationship between workforce diversity in an organization and the organization’s capacity for innovation and creativity. There have been many reasons put forth for the value of increased diversity in the corporation. Among them: it more closely reflects the global marketplace in which the corporation competes, and it provides a richer, more rewarding working environment for all employees. Here is yet another: a diverse workforce offers the potential for generating more creative ideas against the various challenges the corporation faces. The author draws a comparison between divergent thinking, known to be a key process in creative individuals when trying to solve a problem, and creative group process on a project team comprised of members with diverse backgrounds and experience. Just as the individual engages in divergent thinking to get “clues” from a variety of sources, the team can draw on the differing perspectives within the group to generate a range of creative solutions to their company’s problems and opportunities. However, diverse teams can also present problems, because of those differing perspectives. The author therefore concludes with five practical guidelines for those planning and conducting idea generation sessions, so as to maximize creative output and maintain a positive, productive climate.
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