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Diversity of thought in change management leadership - CITI
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Diversity of thought in change management leadership

Diversity of thought in change management leadership
Diversity surrounds us in all aspects of life, it seems a good time to think about the value of diversity, not only in project management but all walks of life.  A colleague at CITI recently posted a blog on diversity of thought which really struck a chord.  This is one of the areas which we could get value from looking more deeply into.

Stuart Well’s book Choosing The Future is particularly interesting to change professionals as it shines a spotlight on the importance of thought and thoughtfulness in change.  A major theme is that all change is a three stage process of 1) think, 2) decide and 3) act.  It is necessary to have used a thought process to arrive at a decision.  Without a decision the probability of taking actions to bring about change is zero.  Now, thinking about it a little further, for organisational change we should ask who owns the thought processes and who owns the action processes?  The fact that this is usually different groups is really interesting and might explain why so much change fails at the action stage.

The people, let’s call them leadership, who set the organisations’ direction, and therefore running the thought processes, are usually different from the change agents; the people who need to take the actions to achieve lasting change.  If thought and action aren’t related there will likely be real problems.  One potential solution to this problem is embracing diversity.

What seems to be the case is that bringing a variety of diverse thoughts and perspectives to bear on any decision tends to lead to a better result.  You may well have been involved in a common training exercise about the power of diverse group thinking over individual thought.  Usually you are given a scenario (typically you have been stranded on a desert island, Outer Mongolia or the moon [delete as appropriate]) and a list of items; then you are asked to place the items into an order of importance to you.  The exercise is then repeated as a group.  The resulting lists of priorities are different and in the vast majority of cases, the team derived list is a far better match to the correct answer than the individually developed lists.  The purpose of the exercise is to show that diverse thinking from different perspectives will return a better answer than a single person.

But there is more to this.  It is not just about reaching a good decision; it is also about gaining support for that decision’s actions into the future.  Another beauty of embracing diversity is that it breeds inclusivity and belonging; ownership of decisions becomes more public and persistent.  Both of these qualities are very valuable if we want to change a group’s behaviours and get the new behaviours to ‘stick’.

What a great idea, deliberately using diversity to accelerate change, make it more valuable, easier to achieve and longer lasting.  At CITI we have a number of tools and models to help facilitate the process of using diversity in a change environment and would welcome any views or contributions from others – if this strikes a chord, please get in touch and, in the meantime as our French cousins would say – Vive la difference!

Nick Dobson

Nick Dobson, Principal Consultant

Nick is one of CITI’s most experienced practitioners with over 25 years of experience. He has been involved in delivery at every stage of the change lifecycle and has developed particular expertise in the sponsorship of projects and programmes and their pace of delivery / agility. Nick can be contacted via email at


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