I’m realising that ways in which I benefit from diversity in MBA class is very different from my initial expectation. Like I mentioned in an earlier post (competitive-advantage), the MBA class is very diverse. One of the main advantages is that I’m exposed to different points of view (culturally, professionally or simply through povs of different personalities). But this was my original expectation! I also knew that I’d gain maximum value from this exposure depending on how much learn from it. What surprises me is not how much I’m learning, it is what I’m learning that is different from my expectation.
I expected that my reasoning, decision making and problem solving ability would improve because I’d learn to “think’ from different points of view. This is not true! After a month of interaction with such a diverse group, I must conclude that “thinking” does not change due to mere knowledge of different points of view. The fact that “thinking” does not automatically change makes sense because I have been constantly interacting with professionals from all over the world during the past seven years and my “thinking” has not changed significantly. What then is the benefit? It is the process of being proven wrong over and over again!
Everytime I think that the team’s consensus will flow in a certain direction, I find out it goes exactly the opposite direction. When I ask my freinds in class which part of the course they liked the most, I get the most unexpected replies. It used to be easy to predict the group pshyche and points on which teams would find common ground.. its almost impossible to predict that in such a diverse group. The team surely reaches concensus, but not on the grounds I expect it to. The students surely appreciate lectures, but not the way I expect they might have. What I learn is not a new way to “think” or a new way to reason, but the truth that no approach or idea is a standard fit in the market. An Idea will not be readily accepted merely on the merit of its logic or novelty. Brains from different cultures and lifestyles are wired in completely different ways. Each brain is brilliant and intelligent in its own way, in its own thought process.. but not the way we expect it to be. To see diversity in action is a completely different expereince compared to just reading about importance and power of diversity.
Bottomline, the reason diversity is important in an MBA class is not because your reasoning will improve, it is important because you will better appreciate diversity in values and reasoning. You will not necessarily come up with the best ideas in the global team, but you will work better in a global team.