Tag Archives: creativity

A Diversity Allegory

7 May

This week I heard a story that sparked my D&I interest.

It’s about insects, but bear with me, it’s a great allegory for D&I!

If you put bees and flies into a glass jar and put the bottom of the open jar against the window (so the open end is away from the window) on a sunny day, what do you think happens?

Apparently (and I haven’t tested this, so I’m going on faith that the story teller did their research), the bees move towards the light. That’s what their DNA tells them is the right thing to do. The flies on the other hand, don’t have a “go to the light” instinct, and fly around all over the jar (noisily, maybe annoyingly). Eventually the flies find the opening, and away they go. The bees stay collected at the closed end, still trying to get to the sunlight.

What’s the moral of the story?

I’m sure there are many, but here’s one: If we get stuck in “what we know” and don’t let others contribute their knowledge and insight, we might miss an innovative solution, a creative idea, a different path. Working with others can be challenging – annoying even – but diversity, innovation and creativity are linked – if the environment supports it.

You may never sees flies in the same light again (pun intended).

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Copyright 2015 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker, Facilitator and Author on issues of Diversity & Inclusion.


The 3rd Alternative

12 Oct

Stephen R. Covey has come out with a new book. It’s called The 3rd Alternative. I read about it in the Globe and Mail last week and it’s on my list of books to acquire. I think it would make a great read for any organization committed to diversity and inclusion. Here’s why:

One of the barriers to inclusion is the resistance to change. Organizations look for the best and brightest when they hire, only to often stifle the very talent they were seeking by being set in their ways, and refusing to see the value in “out of their box” thinking. 

And it’s not just in organizations! As human beings we often mix up “I have always done it this way” with “my way is the best way to do it” or even worse “my way the only way to do it”.

Diversity brings new ideas, perspectives, needs and realities – all of which can create conflict. Stephen Covey’s 3rd alternative is about dealing with conflict in a way that is truly win-win.  Harvey Schachter’s article in the Globe and Mail summarizes it well: The 3rd alternative, he writes, is “not a compromise, but a whole new approach that combines the best of both sides.” 

The article lists the 4 steps that Covey outlines in his book as:

  1. Ask the third alternative question
  2. Define criteria for success
  3. Create the third alternative
  4. Arrive at synergy

I’m smiling just re-reading the article, and I’m looking forward to the book!

I can’t help but wonder what great things we could achieve if we didn’t dig in our heels out of fear or a need to be right.

What if we asked the third alternative question and were open to seeing where our collective genius could take us – in organizations, in communities, in families… and globally!

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copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity and inclusion

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