Reading is fun. But not every book is really worth reading it – especially when it comes to business books. Therefore I already started the “Book of the Week” Series, where I share comprehensive abstracts on my favourite books.
Now I want to start another series called: “Business Books” – featuring information on books in a more compact way. Today I would like to present you “Putting Our Differences to Work”, by Debbe Kennedy (2008).
Putting differences to work – creating an environment where diverse individuals can work more effectively to drive innovation and performance – has unlimited potential benefits. Unfortunately, however, organizations often overlook these differences, failing to tap into the wealth of insight that could improve innovation and outcomes in a mutualistic process.
In Putting Our Differences to Work, author Debbe Kennedy seeks to provide a practical guide that will facilitate putting differences to work within any organization. To this end, she introduces the Five Distinctive Qualities of Leadership and a six-step road map to guide the way. Through her writing, Kennedy extends the invitation to all leaders to join her in ushering in a new era in which business and society are transformed by creating inclusive cultures and capitalizing on differences.
The Five Distinctive Qualities of Leadership are “stretching lessons” that have the potential to enhance leadership, achievement, collaboration, and influence. The qualities are:
- make diversity an organizational priority
- get to know people and their differences
- enable rich communication
- hold personal responsibility as a core value
- establish mutualism as the final arbiter. Although the qualities are not complex, they will require effort, practice, and conviction to operationalize. Kennedy also developed a six step process as an action plan for putting differences to work. This model – which reflects the unpredictable realities of any change process – includes the following steps:
- assessment: defining current realities
- acceptance: developing support for change
- action: moving forward
- accountability, establishing shared ownership
- achievement: measuring process
- more action: keeping momentum alive
Each step is explored in the second section of the book, along with real-world examples. As society becomes increasingly diverse, leaders must capitalize upon the benefits of putting differences to work. According to Kennedy, “…putting differences to work is the most powerful accelerator for generating new ideas, creating innovative solutions, executing organizational strategies, and engaging everyone in the process.”