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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Not Even One of These Things Is Not Like Another

I was in my first meeting the other day of a group expected to help shape strategy for an organization with domestic and international reach to a mainly young audience. Of the eleven people present, ten were Caucasian males (mostly baby boomers), and the other was a Caucasian female baby boomer.

Ok, big problem looming!

Next time you're on an input-giving or decision making group, look around at the participants. If you're lacking diversity on any important dimension relevant to your target audience, voice a concern.

In this case, after challenging ourselves on the group's composition, one member offered to have his wife take his place. Nice sentiment, but hardly a fix for the underlying problem.

Leaders need to aggressively look out for diversity and ensure it's taken into consideration, even when it means reaching far outside their traditional networks to include different people. Beyond being an issue of propriety, it's critical for innovation and sound strategic decision making. - Mike Brown

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Kristen said...

Hi Mike,

Good post! I would agree that diversity is important when it comes to generating a variety of strategic ideas from a number of viewpoints. However, when it comes to marketing to a younger audience, baby boomers are often very well suited for brainstorming and deveoping strategy (because we know what we like!)Just like if you were to work with a healthcare company, you would pull in those who knew the most about healthcare. We are often the experts because we are young.

I still agree that a causian, male-dominated group of baby boomers might not be the best for your team, but also don't want you to discount the power of young minds!

Mike Brown said...

Kristen - Make no mistake...I love the power of young minds!

The last of the baby boomers were born in the mid-1960's though. We had a room full of minds born in the 1950's and 1960's when our task was thinking about how to attract a group in its late teens to late twenties.

We desparately needed some minds born in the 1980's and the 1990's!