April 30, 2009 — Vol. 2 Issue 4
Scott E. Page's The Difference
There is an empirically sound reason that NASA project life cycle reviews should bring together diverse groups of thinkers: there is strength in cognitive diversity, according to Scott E. Page.
Scott E. Page, The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies
, Princeton University Press, 2007, 424 pp.
What is cognitive diversity, and how can it help groups arrive at good decisions? Page, a professor of complex systems, political science, and economics at the University of Michigan, examines these questions with a challenging level of rigor. Page uses logic-based puzzles to explain the range of tools we use for making decisions, and then establishes that cognitively diverse groups — those whose members use a wide variety of problem-solving tools — outperform groups with narrower tool sets. He looks at empirical studies and concludes that the benefits of diversity are clear, though our lack of understanding about how to manage it effectively has prevented us from fully optimizing its benefits.
is not an easy read, but it is worth the effort for those who want an intellectual understanding of why cognitive diversity matters and in what contexts it offers the greatest benefits.
Learn more about The Difference.