Innovation: Ancient, Ageless, and Diverse

Innovation DiverseDid you attend that start-up incubator networking event last week? Did you know that that start-up incubator mentality isn’t the new revolutionary concept many believe it to be? According to the Harvard Business Review it dates back to 15th-century Italy. During the Renaissance, master artists in Florence were committed to sharing their talent with up-and-coming artists in hopes that new techniques would emerge. This collaboration would mostly occur at a “bottega” or workshop where many others would join to share insights and discuss revolutionary ways of working together.

Much like today in our 21st century startup incubators and quick-pitch investor sessions, the 15th century bottega was a place for artists, businesspeople, politicians, and economists to come together and revel in new value creation; turning ideas into action through diverse dialogue. This diverse dialogue has been considered time and time again to be a critical factor in fostering new value, however, until recently it has been difficult to prove. The Harvard Business Review highlights this here and found research to validate this claim. This study found that companies which proactively focus on hiring employee with both inherit diversity and acquired diversity were 45% more likely to see a growth in market share over a previous year, and 70% more likely to expand into new markets.

So why I am referring to the 15th century Renaissance to make a point about diversity? Because those artists, businesspeople, politicians, economists, and others (as mentioned above) represented a group of individuals that had both inherent and acquired diversity, ranging from educational backgrounds, socio-economic backgrounds, and experiential backgrounds from around the world. Diversity in innovation is ageless and will never go out of style. This level of diversity allowed for transformational innovation in the 15th century, just as it now allows for transformational innovation in the 21st century.

Organizations are no longer viewing diversity as separate from other business practices, and recognize that diverse perspectives will differentiate them from competitors.

A diverse workforce is necessary to drive innovation, foster creativity, and guide business strategies now more than ever. Competition is strong and access to information is easier than ever before. Involving diverse thinkers will encourage out-of-the-box thinking leading to new ideas, new offerings and the ultimate competitive advantage.

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