Matthias did a great job of fully summarizing the ‘Embracing Inclusion to Drive Innovation’ event at SAP Tech Ed Las Vegas. Kudos again for his honesty and openness in sharing his views – and investing allot of time doing so. We were on the same team, and were each so moved that we had a few long chats after the event, learning allot from each other. His blog url is provided above and is the anchor for mine.
I had a very different perspective on the lessons we could learn from this event. Maybe I see it differently because I have always viewed such discussions from the perspective of a minority so my antennae are always up and I’m conditioned to look/listen for behavioral clues – that’s how I’ve made it this far being who I am.
So – what WOULD HAVE BEEN FASCINATING to share at the end of the evening was “How we each experienced being part of these teams? Were we inclusive as we jointly built the deliverable for the team? Did we notice that people were falling into cultural personas/patterns of behavior, not cognizant of the patterns of team members “not like us”, not seeing the question to be solved from the perspective of “others”? The 3 minute presentations from each team paled in comparison to groups sharing how they experienced “inclusion” – or lack thereof – in each team. Much of this is subconscious unless you are wired to hear it, instinctively.
We took a long time to agree on “what question are we trying to answer”, and in our frustration and under time pressure, we all regressed into our normal “roles”, certainly unknowingly –
Matthias as the white male, previously unaware of what it’s like to be in the minority (as a man). He also admits the exclusion individuals feel tends to go unnoticed by him (“everything seems ok to me…”);
Me as the sensitive minority making sure my voice is heard, certain that it’s not (hey, you are not listening to me…)
Anne (Hardy), the leader that she is, just starting to get it done, constructing balloons and driving our model;
Bala, seemingly more sensitive to being in the minority, and seeking to experience this event from the point of view of a father with two daughters who he wants to succeed;
Patti continuing in her role as panel moderator and HR expert, driving allot of the conversation;
Karin, as event organizer, trying to lead us thru ambiguous assignment* to a successful outcome, roping in all these disparate personalities/cultures/genders.
This alone was fascinating to watch. But there is more…
How we interpret data depends totally on where we are coming from. Two examples:
Fact: the non-white population is growing at a faster rate than the white population, so that the majority of the workforce may be peopled by folks of color (maybe we have crossed that threshold already?)
I hear that and say think “there will be more opportunities for people of color in the workforce and we all are thus forced to be more open in hiring and inclusive in our work styles”. Matthias heard that as “I will be even more in demand as I am part of a shirking class”. We were each stunned by the divergence in interpretation.
Another point of difference – those who are forced to use social, fluid tactics to hire vs. those who are accustomed to formal, planful, orderly processes. Patti, an HR expert, voiced the need for a “localized” strategy to hire in emerging countries. In contrast, coming from the social team, I believed that hiring CAN BE as simple as posting on Facebook and reaching networks in countries that are trusted using that method. We both looked at each other a bit aghast at the others “commitment” to our point of view. (I just hired my latest Bangalore employee by making the connection on Facebook thru a trusted connection). Patti’s POV made sense but was not part of my approach to hiring in new countries.th
The next day, I suggested to Marilyn that future events focus on the “conversation” in the teams more than the “output” of the teams. She agreed and I hope to see this considered for Madrid.
Thank you table-mates for providing a rich experience. Much love and thanks to Marilyn for being brave and guiding this effort. It’s the start of something big.
See you all in Madrid!
*(Ours was “Attracting the Best Talent from the Millennium Generation (20-30 year olds)”