This post is the twenty-first part of a ramble-rant about the software business. The current posts in this series are:
This post is about the power of diversity.
There are at least two ways of looking at anything. For example, you can say groupthink has altered the course of history. That sounds positive. You can also say groupthink is responsible for atrocities against humanity that scar history. Not so positive. Both are accurate, one is spin.
No one wakes up in the morning and says "I think I'll suspend logic today and just blindly agree to whatever anyone suggests." At least I hope no one does that. Groupthink takes time and, like other forms of mold and decay, is an organic process.
If you get a bunch of people who have similarly trained in solving problems in one domain, why are people shocked when groupthink occurs? Diversity is the key to keeping groupthink at bay. I'm not talking about social diversity, I'm talking about diversity of thought.
For example, if you put a gaggle of MBAs in a room and present a case study (MBAs are uniquely qualified to deal with case studies because this is the chief mechanism used to train them) they will reach a conclusion. Odds are they will employ the tools of their trade and analyze the case study from top to bottom. There will not be uniformity, but there will be consensus. In some instances, consensus is exactly what you want.
In other instances, you want more ideas on the board and more approaches than what they teach in business school. My point? In every project, there's at least one place where a less popular (or harder to sell) option is a - or even the - differentiator.
...is often the enemy of diversity. We look for people with certain skills to bild our teams. We search for folks with similar backgrounds - sometimes unconsciously. We want to work for a company of like-minded individuals. It's... well, it's comfortable.
But will we succeed if we're trying innovate in this way? Will we grow if we join a group of people who all think like we already do?
This is one reason I love the SQL Server community. We have lots of diversity (trust me). We have DBAs with experience in multiple platforms and those who've never executed a query outside of SQL Server. We have performance people, high-availability people, business intelligence people, and storage people - to name just a few. These are just our differences within the domain of SQL Server! This is one of our strengths as a community, in my opinion.
Another strength is mutual trust and respect. And Jagermeister.
Diversity of thought is a good thing. It's not always easy to manage, but diversity ultimately produces better results.