Driven by Difference: A book review by Bob Morris

Posted on: February 8th, 2016 by bobmorris

Driven by DifferenceDriven by Difference: How Great Companies Fuel Innovation Through Diversity
David A. Livermore
AMACOM (2016)

Why most differences can be bridges rather than barriers …if you allow them to be

In this exceptionally thoughtful and thought-provoking book, David Livermore addresses two questions whose answers are different but interdependent:

“How can you utilize perspectives to come up with better solutions?”

“And what part of the innovation process needs to be adjusted to leverage diversity for better innovation?”

“Diversity by itself does not en sure innovation. Diversity combined with high cultural intelligence (CQ) is the capability to function effectively in culturally diverse situations.” These are the capabilities of cultural intelligence that Livermore identifies:

o CQ Drive: Your interest, drive, and confidence to adapt to multicultural situations
o CQ Knowledge: “Your understanding about how cultures are similar and different”
o CQ Strategy: “Your awareness and ability to plan for multicultural situations”
o CQ Action: “Your ability to adapt appropriately when working and relating interculturally”

“All four CQ capabilities (Drive, Knowledge, Strategy, and Action) are a part of culturally intelligent innovation, but the one that is most essential for creating climate for culturally intelligent innovation is CQ Strategy — the degree to which you consciously address and use cultural differences to come up with better solutions.”

In Part II, he introduces the 5D Process. It consists of five components:

1. Define: Align Diverse Expectations and Goals. “Learn the importance of creating a shared, metal model for using
diversity to create better, innovative outcomes. And gain leading practices for aligning diverse expectations on a team.”

2. Dream: Generate Diverse Ideas. “Discover the challenges and opportunities for generating ideas from a diverse team. And gain leading practices for generating ideas on a diverse team.”

3. Decide: Select and Sell Your Idea. “Understand the influence of cultural differences for how you select and pitch an idea. And gain leading practices for selecting and selling your idea to diverse users.”

4. Design: Create and Test for Diverse Users. “See how cultural differences influence and perceptions about design and utility. And gain leading practices for designing and testing for diverse users.”

5. Deliver: Implement Global Solutions. “Prepare for implementation by minimizing potential conflict and maximizing the strengths of a diverse team. And gain leading practices for managing implementation of your innovative solution”

He explains in detail how to accelerate the development of these five capabilities.

These are among the passages of greatest interest and value to me, also shared to suggest the cope of Livermore’s coverage in Part I (Chapters 1-6):

o Introduction (Pages 1-5)
o The Diversity of Diversity (8-14)
o ROI of High CQ for Organizations (22-25)
o Redefining Innovation (30-31)
o Culture Shapes Your Attention Priming Your Subconscious to Innovation (33-34)
o Priming Your Subconscious to Innovation (35-38)
o Corporate Culture Trumps National Culture (42-44)
o How to Pay Attention to Innovation (44-46)
o Core to Innovation (50-51)
o The Danger of Minimization (52-54)
o How to Improve Perspective Taking (61-66)
o It Starts with Self-Control (70-77)
o Problem Finding (79-82)
o How to Increase Focus (82-85)
o Universal Influences on Development of Creativity (88-90)
o How to Use the Power of Space (101-102)
o Calculating Trust (110-117)
o How to Build Trust on a Diverse Team (118-122)

Then in Part II, Livermore introduces the 5D process for culturally intelligent innovation (Chapters 7-11), followed by an Epilogue, Appendix A (“Cultural Intelligence — What’s Your CQ?) and Appendix B (“Glossary of Cultural Value Dimensions”). He is to be commended on his brilliant use of several reader-friendly devices that include various Tables and Figures as well as bullet point checklists, boxed “nuggets” in the form of key points about power and impact, and “Climate Assessment” diagnostic exercises such as “I’m Confident I understand a diversity of our users’ perspectives” (on Page 67) with three options: Not Confident, Somewhat Confident, and Very Confident. These devices serve two separate but interdependent purposes: They focus on key issues, and, they will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of the material later.

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine could possibly do full justice to the quality of the material that David Livermore provides in abundance. However, I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of his book.

Two final points: It would be a fool’s errand to attempt to apply all of his recommendations. It remains for each reader to determine what among the information, insights, and counsel is most relevant to the needs, resources, concerns, and objectives of their organization. Also, nourishing one’s cultural intelligence is not a project or strategic initiative; rather, it is a never-ending process.

In First Corinthians, St. Paul discusses a concept that aptly describes the healthiest organizations today: All have a CQ culture that does indeed have “many different parts, one body.”

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