The importance of cognitive diversity
New ideas. Fresh solutions. Creative and collaborative energy. These are all things that a
workplace strives to generate. In order to achieve this, working groups need to have cognitive
diversity. Cognitive diversity is defined as the inclusion of people who have different ways of
thinking, different viewpoints and different skill sets in a team or business group.
Cognitive diversity is essential to keeping a company from entering a point of stagnation. A
Harvard Business Review study found that, in multiple cases, when the same demographic was
given the same task, the group or groups that were more cognitively diverse finished the given
task first. The groups with less cognitive diversity were slower or simply failed to complete the
task. This is because more cognitive diversity brings a greater number of different approaches
to problem-solving leading to a working solution.
Hiring managers must keep this in mind when staffing because many times, staffers look for
candidates that are similar to successful employees of the past. However, people who have too
similar of a background – graduated from the same university for example – have less cognitive
diversity and may struggle in group settings.