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How diversity and inclusion can channel creativity and innovation

Joseph Bradley, CEO of Tonomus, shares how organizations can create robust cultures.

How diversity and inclusion can channel creativity and innovation
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

Our world is becoming increasingly technology-driven, but in the humdrum of advancements, we often question the relevance of the human quotient. 

No matter how advanced technology becomes, humans will continue to play a critical role. “When I think of a breakthrough innovation, it’s not technology, it’s humans,” says Joseph Bradley, CEO, Tonomus. 

Tech players must build a culture that balances inclusion and diversity without undermining either to create a culture of innovation.

BUILDING A CULTURE OF INNOVATION AND DIVERSITY 

A culture that harnesses inclusion and diversity as its cornerstones create a positive impact. Yet, we see some companies not focusing on inclusion. Studies suggest that diverse companies enjoy 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee and that inclusive teams improve team performance by up to 30% in high-diversity environments

“Diversity is the potential to create value; however, it is not enough,” Bradley says. “Inclusion which is driving full participation, is the realization of that value.”

Finding the right balance between the two is crucial to building an entrepreneurship ecosystem, which  Bradley and his team are working on at Tonomus. 

“Entrepreneurship is not about having a diverse group of individuals in a company or a country; it’s about involving those individuals and owning their full participation in the ecosystem. That’s what we fundamentally feel is the differentiator.”

He adds, “Diversity and inclusion is not just the right thing to do, it’s the profitable thing to do.”

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PRIORITIZING CREATIVITY AND DESIGN THINKING

Beyond diversity and inclusion, creativity is at the heart of business. Creativity is crucial to develop innovative solutions and offerings– it helps businesses to stand out from their competitors. Bradley suggests ways to harness creativity and ensure it remains at the core of operations.

“Creativity is about asking the right questions,” he says. Core to this is design thinking – which involves ideation, development, and implementation. It is critical to the success of an enterprise throughout its growth trajectory. 

An essential ingredient to creative thinking is enabling experimentation. Companies that channel creativity, Bradley says, are equipped to disrupt the industry with unique ideas and innovations.

“In a world of cognition, you have to be able to prioritize and focus on elements that will drive the highest reward. It doesn’t mean the other elements aren’t important. We have to reverse the corporate value flow. If we take care of our employees, they take care of our customers, that takes care of the cash flow.” 

Enterprises that enable their employees to be more creative and provide them space to ideate will inspire much more creativity in business than those that measure output based on predetermined productivity measures. 

Ultimately, prioritizing creativity and innovation involves keeping humans at the center of any technological narrative. 

“When I think of innovation, I think about what is the most valuable asset in the world,” Bradley says. “The most valuable asset is people … So when I think of  breakthrough innovation, it’s not technology; it’s the ability  to see you for who you are and me for who I am.” 

To some extent, channeling creativity is about understanding how our similarities outmeasure the differences. “We are on the planet to create and live life. That is a common goal that every single individual has, and it’s not about tech or financials; it’s not about getting a bunch of PhDs,” Bradley says. 

“It’s about every individual choosing to say, ‘I see you’.” 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachel Clare McGrath Dawson is a Correspondent at Fast Company Middle East who writes on tech, design, and culture. More

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