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two heads diverse decisionsI just proved to myself the old adage that two heads get better outcomes than one. I was also reminded that having two heads, especially heads that think differently, is harder!

I had drafted a proposal for a joint presentation by my colleague Stewart Hirsch and me. Thinking it was good, I sent it to him for his comment (actually his blessing). The final product was much better than my initial draft.

We preach this stuff in our workshops. Diversity is linked with better decisions; diverse groups bring multiple perspectives and ideas to a project. A study by Kellogg School of Management demonstrates why diverse groups get better outcomes. Heterogeneous groups process information more carefully than homogenous groups. When one person who is different (diverse in some way) joins a homogeneous group, the original group does not know what the new person will say or how he or she thinks. So they pay more attention.

I have written blogs on why organizations with diverse and inclusive cultures get better results and why inclusion and diversity are linked with innovation and better decisions. I was reminded of this working on this proposal. Working with Stewart, whose perspectives and ways of thinking are different from mine, paid dividends. Diversity pays!

As a practical matter, though, working with diverse groups is harder than working with homogeneous ones. Collaborating with people who think differently than we do is harder than working alone or with people who agree with us. When I sent the draft to Stewart, I was expecting a short, easy process. Two long phone calls and four e-mails later, we were done. I must admit that I was a little defensive when he suggested certain changes. Some of his suggestions I simply did not like. Some of them were great. The process was five times harder than writing the initial draft. But the push and pull made for a much better document – and was worth the effort.

Where have you experienced the benefit of working with people different from yourself?