Diversity Is Key

There have been many types of research done by scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists, and demographers that show how socially diverse teams (i.e.; a diversity of gender, race, and even sexual orientation) are more innovative than homogeneous groups. Hence, one could conclude that a mix of diverse individuals with diverse skill sets and expertise would be better at root cause analysis (think ITIL Problem Management and solving complex problems), then a team, for example, made up of only men.

This is because people of different genders and with different backgrounds bring new information and perspectives to the table. Now, working with a diverse team isn’t always easy; we must be able to and be prepared to accept alternative viewpoints. However, having a diverse ITIL problem management team will go a long way in actually solving the problems, especially if the team has women members as opposed to the traditional makeup of a predominantly all-male team.

While I do believe that women and men are equal; they are uniquely different.  One of the ways in which this difference is manifested is in the way that women and men approach problem-solving. This can be vastly different and ultimately lead to the problem being solved; or not. This enhances one more diversity factor that is talked about less but is of utmost importance: cognitive diversity in problem-solving. Cognitive diversity has been defined as differences in perspective or information processing styles. Since women come at problem-solving from different cognitive angles than men, we now have a greater chance to resolve problems.

Why is this important in IT Service Management? Well, in ITIL Problem Management, having a gender diverse ITIL problem management team will lead to greater and better solution outcomes. Medical research and facts have shown that women’s and mens’ brains function differently and that difference can be a huge advantage in a diverse ITIL problem management team. It is not that one gender’s brain is better than the other; it is that together they can achieve the best results.

Multiple scientific types of research have shown that while men have slightly larger brain mass than women, they typically rely more heavily on the left side of their brain to solve problems.  Which is good in and of itself since the left side of the brain is responsible for tasks that have to do with logic.

Yet, in a study performed by Harvard in 2001, it was shown that although the woman’s brain is slightly smaller in mass, their neurons are packed more tightly allowing for quicker decision making and multi-tasking. More importantly, it showed that the part of the brain that is responsible for problem-solving and decision-making, called the frontal lobe, is actually larger in women. This, augmented with that fact that women can tap more readily into the right side of the brain, which is responsible for the creative thinking process, makes them juggernauts in my book for effective and efficient problem-solving.

Also, keep in mind that women are more often open to communication and discussion than their male counterpart.  This means that they usually talk through the problem and about the problem to other, discussing the situation in detail, and how it could be solved. After all, the means to the solution is often as important as the solution itself.

To the Point

The fact is that if you want to build ITIL problem management teams capable of innovating, with great problem-solving skills, you need diversity.  Gender Diversity enhances Cognitive diversity and in turn, the more diverse the team is, the more creative it can get when approaching root cause analysis.  It is the differences in women’s and men’s perspectives and methods of approaching problems that most often lead to better outcomes.

Do your IT Service Management organization a favor and make sure you have women, and plenty of them, on your ITIL problem management team.  And remember that:

“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.”  – Stephen R. Covey

About the Author
Cristy Castano is an IT Service Management Consultant with Flycast Partners, Inc.  With over 22 years of working in the IT Service Management industry, Cristy has extensive knowledge of IT Service Management principles (ITILv3) and process improvement techniques.  If you think your organization can benefit from adopting ITSM / ITIL best practices, or if you’d like more help with ITIL Problem Management, then contact Flycast Partners to get a helping hand.