What do you mean by diversity?
I mean cognitive diversity—differences in the representations and
categories people construct to make sense of data, differences in the
tools and techniques that they apply to problems, and differences in
the models and frameworks that they use to make predictions and
What is the diversity bonus and why does it matter?
When a team applies diverse ways of thinking to a task—whether
it is solving a problem, making a prediction, or coming up with
creative ideas—they don’t get the average of the individual answers.
They do much better. In fact, on complex tasks, diverse teams outperform
their best member. That’s the diversity bonus. Diversity doesn’t
supplant individual talent. We need talent, but it must be diverse.
What do you think would most surprise your readers to learn about
diversity bonuses and their benefits?
That there’s science and math behind this. You say “diversity” and
people immediately invoke considerations of social justice and
equity. That thinking results in a trade-off logic—that being diverse
sacrifices excellence. That’s wrong. You need diversity to achieve
But there’s a caveat—diversity bonuses don’t exist for all tasks.
They’re a phenomenon of the modern, cognitive economy that arise
on complex tasks like designing supply chains, making economic
forecasts, and performing cancer research.
When most people talk about diversity, they mean identity diversity.
Is identity diversity related to cognitive diversity?
Absolutely! Our identities can be a key driver of cognitive diversity on
many tasks. Who we are directly influences our experiences and also
correlates with the information and training we acquire. The extent
to which identity matters will of course depend on the task. For any
policy task—say, formulating a health-care plan—or any design problem
such as reconfiguring the interior of a modern airplane, the best
teams will be diverse in identity.
How can your work benefit businesses and other organizations?
By reframing diversity initiatives as strategic policies that link to mission,
and by providing a logical and empirical basis for how, when,
and why diversity improves outcomes, this book will help organizations
and leaders build better, more successful teams.