Diversity not Always Leads to Innovation and Creativity: The Damaging Effects of Indirect Cultural Disharmony

See on Scoop.itMindful Leadership & Intercultural Communication

Jenny Ebermann | Communications | Services

Jenny Ebermann | Intercultural Communications | Services

Organizations strive to be innovative and creative. For that reason, they invest in diversity management, because innovation and creativity can be increased through diversity.


Jenny Ebermann‘s insight:

I completely agree! Diversity has to be actively managed to be able to harvest its benefits such as more creativity and innovation…

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Multitasking: An Impediment to Thinking & Behaviour

Man multitaskingMore and more articles on the web state that multitasking and doing 10 things at a time, not only hamper creativity and innovation as well as reduce people’s ability to behave in an ‘emotionally intelligent’ way; even worse, it can affect your memory and lead to stress, thus illness.

Whereas these facts are more or less known, little action is taken to reduce multitasking in work environments. On the contrary:

  • People spend most of their days in calls
  • At the same time they receive an enormous amount of emails, many of them ‘urgent’
  • Very often, latest findings and messages have to be simultaneously posted on various external social media channels as well as fed into internal communication channels
  • Urgent calls are also coming in which were not scheduled beforehand
  • And: maybe you are even supposed to be in a face-2-face meeting during the day

Fortunately, we cannot clone ourselves (yet); we simply cannot be at different places at a time and do various things at once. In order to cope with the daily workload and demands, we usually try very hard to live up to everybody’s expectations.

For a certain while, we might even be able to handle all the demands and inputs successfully… but then, we normally feel overwhelmed or at least we cannot remember properly what was said in a call (where we were on ‘mute’ doing something else in the meantime) or when our colleague came to our desk to talk to us.

What should we do? We need to learn to scale down and approach tasks, demands and workload in a different, mindful way. Nobody can handle everything at the same time and people – yourself even more – deserve your unbiased attention.

You also might want to try implementing these little tips:

  1. Prioritise your emails: only answer the ones which are of major importance and where you are the direct recipient (not in cc and not in bcc).
  2. Instead of responding to chains of mails, make a quick call. Your issue might be solved in a couple of minutes
  3. When attending phone conferences, ensure that there is an agenda, clear objectives and you have an active part to play. You will find that most calls have no outcome and that very often your attendance is not necessary.
  4. When you do attend a call, switch off your other phone and concentrate solely on what is being said (without writing mails or surfing on the net on the same time); make notes and write down action points to make the most out of it.
  5. When attending face-2 face meetings or speaking with somebody, ensure you have enough time and switch off your various devices so that your attention lies on your discussion partner or the people in your meeting.

If you feel too overwhelmed and would like to speak about it, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I would be happy to coach you (even online) so that over time you can find strategies that work for you and adapt them. Mindful and systemic approaches are very much needed to ensure that your time is spent in an effective and creative way.

Thanks for reading, have a great weekend! Jenny

Life on a treadmill

Recently, the Harvard Gazette featured a very interesting article by Chuck Leddy writing about research conducted by Teresa Amabile, Director of Research at the Harvard Business School. She came to the conclusion that nowadays people are under more pressure than ever, trying to meet multiple demands and deadlines, which in turn lessens creativity and the potential for innovative ideas. She says:

“The single most important thing managers can do to enhance workplace creativity is protecting at least 30 to 60 minutes each day for yourself and your people that’s devoted to quiet reflection.”

For those of you regularly in contact with mindful leadership and the concept of emotional intelligence (EI) this will sound very familiar. The fact is however, that in most of the companies I know this creative space for self-reflection is missing. People don’t have a work-life balance anymore (across countries and continents); many are in fact solicited day and night thus living under constant ‘fire’ which is not only a result of digitization but also stems from a very particular workplace culture (the initiative which started in Germany trying to put this to a halt will be an interesting one to follow). More work is shouldered by less people as organisations become leaner. This doesn’t mean more money or benefits, in tough times these would indeed be frozen and the supplementary work simply expected.

As a result, everywhere the costs of absenteeism are on the rise (not only for the companies but also for the welfare state) as more and more people get sick, depressive or end up with burn-outs. In Switzerland during the last months, two top managers of major multinationals have even committed suicide, which to some extend shows the enormous pressure that (top) leaders have to endure (of course this was certainly not the only reason behind such an act and I certainly don’t mean to speculate here).

The point is that living a mindful life, in the here and now, allowing for breaks and ‘non-doing’, becomes a MUST not only for personal and individual health reasons but also for major companies. Without innovations, creative ideas and intrinsically motivated people there is no way competition can be outbid. As T. Amabile puts it:

“In the short term, people become less engaged in their work if their creativity isn’t supported. They will also be less productive because they often can’t focus on their most important work. In the long term, companies may lose their most talented employees, as well as losing out because they won’t have the innovative products, innovative services, and business models that they need to be competitive.”

In summary, organisational excellence thus starts with the people, giving them the possibility to opt-out and time to breathe. Everybody needs a clap on the shoulder and some encouraging words…

The time is ripe for change, not only in organisations but also in people’s minds!

So much for now, thanks for reading and please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if you want to learn more about integrating mindfulness into your lives and related coaching/training practices.


My Related articles:

Being the artist of your own life

Often, when speaking to friends or acquaintances, I hear that people are unhappy about where they are today. Life seems to have brought them somewhere and the circumstances have then created all sorts of situations that finally led to the person not feeling happy and/or content.
Strangely enough, people always think that they don’t have a choice, as if somebody else was living and composing their lives. In German we have a saying that reads something along the lines of “every man/woman is the architect of his/her own fortune”. I have always deeply believed in this sentence as it bears wisdom and encourages creativity. Unfortunately I have never really been able to advance credible arguments as to why this applies to all of us even if destiny sometimes puts us through terrible ordeals.
Well, I was recently pointed towards an excellent book/method called “Personal Leadership” where mindfulness and creativity form the two founding principles on which different practices are based helping us to become more effective and to stay connected with ourselves even when facing the new and unfamiliar. In this book it says on page 25: “When we accept ourselves as the creators of whatever it is that we are experiencing, we have a choice as to how we will respond to any situation or circumstance presented to us”. On the same page it goes on saying that: “(…) we must accept that our attitudes, our emotions, our thoughts, in fact everything that we experience about another person or a particular situation, arises from within us. What arises is certainly a response to external stimuli, but these aren’t responsible for what arises”.
In short this truly means that we have all the keys to success and happiness in our own hands. We make choices in he face of uncertainty and maybe under pressure but whatever we are living and going through, it is us actually responding to triggers and stimuli. In fact, we cannot “hide” behind the “victim” status. We are always an active part of the play ourselves, if we want it or not.
Let me give you an example: let’s say that somebody is losing his/her job quite unexpectedly. This truly is a sad situation and it certainly has a lot of more or less dramatic consequences. But he or she can choose how to respond to this new and unforeseen situation. Either the person could see him or herself as a victim and stay with these negative emotions; or he/she could interpret the situation as an opportunity, as a challenge and possibility to explore new and creative solutions. Of course there might not be a new job immediately around the corner but the person himself/herself will explore his/her full creative potential to search for alternatives instead of staying in a negative state of mind.
To practice this is obviously not easy in every situation; I still believe that with some training we can change the attitudes we have towards ourselves and our external world in order to realize our full potential and live in line with what we are and what we believe in. I am certainly on that journey myself and am eager to see where it goes…have an excellent weekend, Jenny