Managing the outliers



This is a new story of diversity management. This is a new way to add richness to your business. This is a new way to face an uncertain future by building in the power of uncertainties.

I’ve been attending huge number of events organized around the theme of diversity and my feeling has always been the same: homogenous people from homogenous companies talking from a homogenous point of view; with a shared assumption that in the end diversity is a simple reporting mechanism which captures the distribution of “gender” across the various tiers of the organisation. Of course this is important but gender and diversity should go way beyond this.

When I say homogenous companies talking homogenous about diversity I see two major risks:
  • Homogeneous diversity talks.- I totally respect the question of gender but this is not just a gender question. And of course I totally sympathise and support any initiative to ensure that women are, at least, equally represented in all layers of the company but starting with this must it’s time to concentrate on the maximization of talent no matter what gender, religion or skin color . This is time to go deeper.
  • Homogenous companies are companies made of homogenous people.-Normally companies tend to recruit from a narrow pool of possible candidates, looking and sounding similar to each other. This is no accident. Collective intelligence brings you a powerful outcome but not necessarily a new one. Especially if this comes from a homogenous mass. We tend to adapt our behavior and thoughts so as to fit in with those around us.


The future will ask different questions of us, therefore if we want to find different answers we will have to look for them in different places.

What I propose we do is learn how to include and listen to the outliers. The outliers are those outside your normal clusters, those people rejected in the past, but precisely those people that can make the difference in the future.

Too much of what we do is based on what succeeded in the past but times have changed. This is not an era of change, this is a change era, and we must face the future in a different way. PAST is physical, NOW is digital. It is time to get rid of gender, skin color, religion, politics, etc. (and other reductive thinking), it is time to embrace new diversity concepts based on putting all these things together but also adding needed concepts like: gendered experience, ethnicity and cultural expression, generational mindsets, intersectionality as layered into cross functional work and, of course, complementary strengths (please, do me a favour, don’t focus on improving your weaknesses but reinvest your time in strengthening your strengths while the company will take care of balancing out your weaknesses by hiring new strengths).

Combine all this together to get the richest possible outcome. This helps us to understand the success of the startup phenomenon. Let’s get rid of organizing ourselves like a faceless army to achieve a one-dimensional (but grey) outcome and let’s try to install in ourselves the startup mindset. Let’s behave like a squad of multi-skilled diverse individuals.


Let’s replace homogeneity with heterogeneity, let’s include the outliers.

(Article written by Andrew Dodd and Oscar Alcoberro)
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