I've just finished reading Matthew Syed's 'Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking'. It's definitely worth a read!
In the book Matthew argues that individual intelligence is no longer enough; that the only way to tackle complex problems is to harness the power of ‘cognitive diversity’.
He talks about when the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) failed to prevent the 2001 September 11th attacks, many asked whether more could have been done to spot warning signs and whether the real reason why the agency was blind to the warning signs may be a diversity problem within the agency.
The failure of the CIA to spot the warning signs of 9/11 has become one of the most widely debated topics in the history of intelligence.
What if the true reason why the CIA failed to detect the plot is more subtle than people initially thought? What if this problem extends beyond intelligence and silently afflicts thousands of organisations, governments and teams today?
I came across this article published by BBC News, which captures my thoughts perfectly.
The article talks about 'perspective blindness' and its dangers, summarises Matthew Syed's perception on this topic and mentions the CIA's 2015 internal report where, then director, John Brennan said "The study group took a hard look at our agency and reached an unequivocal conclusion: CIA simply must do more to develop the diverse and inclusive leadership environment that our values require and that our mission demands."
The article mentions 'A high proportion of staff at the CIA had grown up in middle class families, endured little financial hardship, or the signs that might act as precursors to radicalisation, or any of a multitude of other experiences that might have added formative insights to the intelligence process'.
Each would have been assets in a more diverse team. As a group, however, they were flawed.
This isn't just about the CIA, the article mentions that 'even executives at some tech companies are unconsciously drawn to people who think like ourselves, but rarely notice the danger because we are unaware of our own blind spots.
My conclusion is that an ethically diverse team has a much better chance of making wiser, more informed decisions.
What do you think?