First and foremost, I do not want to belittle the true meaning of diversity and the importance of diversity with this article. This article will define diversity in a broad sense speaking more toward industry knowledge, and it is not to takeaway from other meanings of diversity.

Assistant Professor of Sociology, Adia Harvey Wingfield explained in an article from The Atlantic back in 2015 that “As diversity becomes defined so broadly, using diversity programs as a way of remedying ongoing historical inequalities can easily become overlooked and dismissed”. This is not something I want this article to be in relation to, so please just note as you read this that the topic is not on diversity as a whole in this article but rather how to bring some diverse thinking to the table for your company to succeed.

With that said – let’s start with what caused this discussion of diverse think at Hanapin Marketing. From time to time Hanapin has group training sessions to help us all get better as employees. In October, there was a training session called curating a culture of diversity and inclusion, which was led by Jeremy York out of InvigorateHR. In this training the importance of diverse think over groupthink was revealed in numbers. Companies that are high in diversity and diverse think make more money than other companies statistically. End story: Diverse think > groupthink.

So, how do we assure that we are a company with diverse think rather than groupthink? First off, what do these things mean? It is tough to find a definition for diverse think, but basically it is the exact opposite of groupthink, which is:

The lack of individual creativity, or of a sense of personal responsibility, that is sometimes characteristic of group interaction (

So, the end goal is to avoid giving people the opportunity to just agree on subject matters, but rather allow each individual to give input and therefore have a more diverse answer to each problem. So, what are the four things you can do at your company to allow this to happen?

1) Hire People with Different Experiences

It all starts with the hiring process. Thanks to folks at Hanapin Marketing like Molly Scheller, this part is taken care of at Hanapin. A key question to ask when hiring experienced people isn’t always “Will this person fit in with our team?”, but in most cases it is “What will this person do differently that will help our team develop?” If there are multiple answers to the second question, this hire would be great to provide different perspectives to the team, and this is where hiring people with different experiences than the current team has can help drive diverse think as new employees come in with different perspectives to share with the current team.

2) Use Some Outside Sources in Your Initial Training Processes

Along the same lines as hiring people with different experiences, you have to give your people different experiences outside of company lines. Assure new hires have opportunities to:

  • Read articles from other companies
  • Attend conferences
  • Get information from outside trainers

The more trainees learn from outside sources in the early going, the more they can develop new ideas without the biases that current employees of the company may have on certain subject areas. It is very important to have a training program that allows the proper amount of allowing diverse thinking and guidance to assure a smooth training processes that isn’t biased towards the way things are currently done in a company.

An example in PPC would be if your company was all taught an exact way to go about Ad Testing, but in an outside training, Ad Testing was done in a different way. This gives the new hire an opportunity to explore the different ways of Ad Testing without any bias as to which way is best, but instead form their own opinions and share with the team. New hires can be a huge part of diverse think in a company in the early going of their training.

3) Promote Leaders That Encourage Those with Different Ideas Than Their Own

This may be the most important step to driving diverse think in a company. The #1 goal of the majority of employees is to please those above them that are making decisions. When leaders of a company love to hear “yes” and outwardly show that they love to hear “yes” this is when groupthink occurs. When it benefits an employee to agree with their leaders, they more often than not are going to agree with their leaders outwardly, whether they actually agree or not.

If the leaders of a company reward those who question them and their thinking, this drives more diverse thinking. You obviously don’t want every little thing you come up with to be questioned, but in terms of bigger decisions, more conversation around the why is extremely helpful to drive better decisions. Employees with different backgrounds and experiences will have different perspectives on the situation and there typically is more than one “right” answer to these larger questions.

An example in the PPC world of this could be if I see conversion rates are dramatically lower for users ages 18-24. I automatically assume that we should lower bids on and/or pause this demographic to get better overall CPLs, but another employee with a different perspective could see that our ad copy and landing page simply don’t speak to that demographic very well and may think running ad and landing page tests for this particular demographic would help move things in the right direction. In order to get these different perspectives based on experiences, leaders need to be open to different perspectives.

4) Ensure Leaders Embrace Awkward Silences

The fourth easy way to drive diverse thinking is to assure leaders embrace awkward silences in group discussions. This seems like the easiest of the 4 steps, but can sometimes be the hardest. When a group goes silent on a question for longer than 10 seconds it can be hard as an extroverted leader to not speak up and give your opinion. However, as a leader it is fairly likely that if you are the first to speak your opinion then others will agree with it and you’ll have a lot of groupthink occurring. Allowing someone else to speak first typically will drive more conversation, as people with differing opinions will be more likely to speak their opinion on a matter.

These are THE 4 ways to drive diverse thinking in your company and you better use them.

I see what you did there

In reality – these are 4 opinions based on philosophical trainings and readings that I developed on how to drive diverse thinking in a company. Do you have differing views? Do you have different suggestions? Let’s use more diverse thinking to develop more practices that would help a company avoid groupthink.

Feel free to Tweet your responses with #DiverseThink or directly at me @jakebrownppc to continue the discussion on diverse thinking.