Diversity is the Mother of Invention

Bringing together people with different skillsets brings new approaches to problems, allowing for more creative solutions. Author of Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do, Nichols learned the importance of knocking on doors across the hall—or ones in buildings down the street. As businesses attempt to break down silos, in particular between CIOs and CMOs, there’s proof that collaborating across teams results in better solutions.

Collaboration plus persistence, the keys to problem solving

For Nichols, collaboration was the key to writing this book. With a marine biology background, he didn’t feel qualified to talk about matters of the brain. But what he did feel was a strong passion for the project.

By continuously reaching across the aisle to neuroscientists and psychologists, among others, his persistence paid off. “Truth be known, I tried my hardest to give this project away to those with better training, better brains, better résumés for the job,” Nichols explains. “The goal has been less about providing absolute answers and more about asking new questions”—questions, he hopes, that will inspire others to explore.

As you take on your next business challenge, consider bringing together a diverse team that can offer multiple perspectives and solutions. A team that is willing to explore to find answers that don’t yet exist. Just remember to have a flexible leader who knows how to get everyone to work together.


This post is part of our ongoing coverage of Microsoft Research and its Visiting Speaker Series. Microsoft Research supports its mission to educate and foster innovation and growth through inviting authors and speakers that inspire big ideas, spark new ways of doing things, or help people see things from a new perspective.