Four eyes see better than two but when it comes to overcoming Innovation Adversity you need to keep in mind who is doing the watching. There are two trends looming on medium to large size businesses. First, companies are under a lot of pressure to relentlessly innovate to maintain their competitive advantage. Second, organizations are working hard to ensure their workforce is diverse and inclusive so that their products and services are designed for the world we live in.

We find comfort among those who agree with us – growth among those who don’t.
– Frank A. Clark

These pressures have led to the creation of new roles such as the Chief Innovation Officer who is focused on and responsible for innovation and the Chief Diversity Officer whose mandate is to ensure Diversity & Inclusion (D&I). Both initiatives are highly strategic for the business but these new organizational structures generally work in silos and have separate mandates as they pursue their own distinct objectives. Even though innovation is decidedly aided by diversity, there is limited communication and collaboration between those who manage these programs.

Diversity and innovation have a lot of in common in the outcomes they seek such as increasing employee and customer engagement. A shared system that combines these elements can benefit both initiatives and overcome Innovation Adversity.

By uniting these initiative, D&I teams can more easily show tangible outcomes from their efforts. Directly connecting their diversity efforts to supporting and driving innovative results that impact the top and bottom line. This in turn helps fuel the investments D&I practitioners seek to increase activity and collaboration.

Likewise Innovation teams drastically increase engagement and maximize not only the likelihood of success but also broaden their horizon by exposing ideas to a more diverse group of people who ultimately participate in solving challenges and proposing solutions that would otherwise would have been missed or discounted.

An interesting study from CTI highlighted the strong linkage between diversity leading to vastly improved innovation results stating that the combination can make it 75% more likely for companies to see ideas make it to market and a team which includes a culturally diverse group of participants is 158% more likely to innovate effectively for their target.

As the saying goes “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and when it comes to overcoming Innovation Adversity building a sustainable competitive advantage, a perfect union is achieved by bringing Innovation and Diversity together with shared systems that challenge and engage participants leading to creative ideas and increased community engagement.

* Source: CTI Innovation Diversity and Market Growth, Launch Highlights 9/25/2013