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Choose Diversity

When you have two candidates for a position (new hire or promotion) chose the one who increases your diversity.

Diversity has been a hot issue for many years and will probably remain important for a long time to come.  Diversity is beneficial, especially when hiring and promoting staff.

Design thinking is also a hot issue.  It is a new name for an old concept (system thinking).  It is the process of looking at a problem from all possible angles.  The resulting solution must incorporate as many aspects of the surrounding environment as possible.  Those who can see the big picture and act on it are especially valuable.

Parochial schools deal with society’s complex problems as well as educating students.  The complexity makes it difficult to provide the perfect solution on the first try.  Finding the best solution through an iterative process is time consuming and expensive.  The messiness of finding the best solution is compounded by the rapid evolution of the surrounding environment.  Even when the best solution is developed, it still needs to continuously evolve to keep pace with the evolving environment and competitive pressures.

Your staff members who have the best chance of helping your parochial school find the best solution are those who bring a diversity of thought to their work and are able to see how to meld together your operating environment, your internal systems, and the needs of your students.

In our ever more complex world, it is unlikely that your next problem will have a linear solution.  Understanding how systems interact, function, could interact, and could function will help your team efficiently discover an effective solution.  In addition to having an understanding of the systems, it is necessary to see the problem from the perspective of the individual systems and their users.  This is where design thinking is valuable.

Your staff needs to be a diverse group of design thinkers.

Next Step:

Define the education, experience, and background you want for each hire and promotion

Devise questions that will help you determine the depth and breadth of each candidate’s qualifications and thinking

Give preference to applicants who have diverse experience, a diverse perspective, and the ability to think broadly

Ethnic, economic, gender, and other forms of diversity provide individuals with a diversity of experience.  Therefore, every team should be as diverse as possible.  The leadership team needs to be equally diverse.  Without a diverse group of broad-thinking leaders, it will be very difficult for your staff to successfully provide the solutions your school needs.

The best staff members and leaders are individuals who have a good understanding of specific disciplines and the ability to diversify their thinking and understanding to encompass the complexity that surrounds everything.  That implies it is important to ensure that every staff member has a diversity of experience rather than one experience many times over.  As a simple example: If you need a parent liaison then someone with 5 years of experience doing enrollment, teaching, providing student counseling, and alumni tracking is more valuable than someone with 5 years of experience with just one of those tasks.  Both have 5 years of experience but one will have a broader background, which should result in better problem solving.  If you want your school to be sustainable, relevant, and effective then your mission, school, and students need the best problem-solvers possible.

Your school’s sustainability, relevance, and effectiveness also depend on a few experts in each of your strategic areas.  The rest of your team members need to be able to think broadly, embrace complexity, and envision complex solutions.

Take It Further:

Encourage your board development committee to seek out candidates who bring a diversity of thought and a broad perspective to the board

Use each opportunity to hire or promote someone to increase the sustainability of your mission

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