The New Business IQ – Inclusion Quotient
As the business landscape becomes more global, increasing diversity and inclusion quotient can help turn shifting demographics into new opportunities.
By Earsa Jackson, CFE
What’s your company’s largest asset? Is it your proprietary products? Property? Client base? According to diversity and inclusion expert, Dr. Arin N. Reeves, your prized asset is your inclusion quotient (IQ). You may be scratching your head: what is an inclusion quotient? This article will provide food for thought so you can position your company for growth for the next 20 years and beyond.
The Next IQ: Next-Level Intelligence
Let’s break down the premise of Reeves’ book, “The Next IQ: The Next Level of Intelligence for 21st Century Leaders.” Historically, companies valued individual intelligence and achievement, and rewarded performance accordingly. This is probably how your company operates today. Reeves describes the world as becoming more global and diverse while encouraging companies to shift their focus to a collective intelligence. The formula for the Next IQ is as follows: Global Mindset + Deliberate Intelligence = the Next IQ. Global Mindset requires intellectual courage, intellectual openness, intellectual reflection, and intellectual empathy. Deliberate Intelligence seeks and includes different and contradictory perspectives. It requires a diverse group of leaders around the table. A company cannot achieve this intelligence level with a table full of leaders with backgrounds that are essentially identical. The theory is that the company will not have all the necessary perspectives at the table to make the best decision for the company if the group is not diverse. Thus, the theory is that, going forward, the stronger companies will be those which have wholeheartedly embraced diversity and inclusion.
According to Reeves, the Next IQ “is that openness to learn from others, unlearn what you thought you knew, and relearn what you now see from your new perspective.”
Don’t Repeat Bob’s Mistake
As companies work on strategic planning and how to position their business for the next 20 years, a real dialogue should be initiated about inclusion quotient. This is a factor that cannot be ignored if your business intends to remain competitive. No longer is diversity and inclusion just the “right thing to do,” it is a “must” to survive.
Here’s a little story about a middle age man, Bob. Bob has lived in the same house for 25 years and worked at the same company for even longer. Each day, Bob has taken the same route to work, for 25 years. When his normal path is shut down due to construction, Bob has to take a new route out of his neighborhood. All of a sudden, Bob realizes that his familiar neighborhood is not so familiar anymore. He no longer recognizes any of his neighbors. As he drives further down the street, he realizes that his neighborhood has totally changed. To his surprise, everyone else seems to recognize each other. Struggling to get a sentence out, he mumbled to himself, “How did this neighborhood just change overnight right under my nose?” Bob is now forced to make new friends and meet new neighbors. Bob soon realizes that his neighborhood has changed so gradually that he did not notice it. Before you laugh at this guy, your company might be guilty of the same mistake.
Have you looked around to take inventory of your customer base, your supplier base, your franchisee base, and your employees? Have any of these bases changed over time? If the answer is no, you might be in Bob’s situation, where time has passed you by. There’s a great possibility that those demographics have changed substantially over the past 10 years. You might be working within a shrinking pool of customers, suppliers, franchisees, and employees, while missing extensive opportunities in other areas.
Today’s Minority is Tomorrow’s Majority
According to a recent CNN.com article, minorities are expected to the majority by 2042: http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/08/13/census.minorities/. By 2023, minority children are expected to make up a majority of the population of children. By 2050, it is projected that minorities will make up 54 percent of the population as a whole. The group expected to grow fastest is the Hispanic population, followed by the African-American population. In total, these minority populations collectively are projected to make up 45 percent of the population as opposed to only 29 percent in 2008. The Asian-American population is expected to account for 9.2 percent of the population in 2050.
These changing demographics should be looked upon by companies with optimism. Here’s an opportunity to expand your base of franchisees, employees, suppliers, and customers. Change can be exciting. Has your company overlooked opportunities to market and recruit in these communities? Now is the time to develop a strategy for expanding your footprint into these communities. Don’t wake up like Bob 25 years from now and wonder where your customer base and market share has gone. Use this time to solidify your current customer base and explore all the growth possibilities the changing demographics provide. Now is the time to position your company for 2030 and beyond by focusing on the Next IQ before it’s too late.
Practical Steps to Improve Your IQ
By now, you are probably asking what you should be doing immediately to improve your IQ. Here are just a few tips taken from The Next IQ, pages 164 to 166:
- Create Constructive Conflict. This notion forces one to facilitate relationships with others who might have a different perspective from us. Human nature is to facilitate relationships with people who agree and have similar perspectives on problem solving. How many of us naturally look for opportunities to foster relationships with individuals outside our normal circle? Stepping outside of your normal circle is the first step to increasing your IQ. This must be a deliberate objective, because it is not the natural response.
- Experiment with Being the Out-grouper. The notion of an out-grouper categorizes one who purposefully takes himself out of his normal circle where he operates comfortably and puts himself into an unfamiliar circle. This exercise necessarily causes us to stretch our mind and thinking pattern. Change can be good and can have a lasting effect when you return to your in-circle. Again, this is a deliberate exercise since it does not come naturally.
- Disrupt Your Patterns. Routines can be detrimental when it comes to problem solving. Attacking an issue the same way every time and consulting the same team every time might not always produce the optimal results. Reeves suggests challenging yourself once a day to disrupt normal patterns. It can be as simple as watching a different television show, listening to a different news program, or taking a new route to work. Remember the story of Bob above. Bob discovered a whole new world was lurking right in his back yard by taking a new route to work.
- Generate Multiple Right Answers. Reeves suggests challenging your leadership team to develop multiple right answers to issues. This forces you to move from the premise that there’s only one right answer. Reeves suggests posing a question and keep generating answers until you have at least two right answers. This exercise forces you to think about issues more inclusively. According to Reeves, “…the more diverse perspectives that are represented in the answer generation process, the easier it will be to come up with multiple right answers.”
As you develop a more diverse and inclusive base in your organization, you necessarily bring more diverse ways of thinking to the organization. In this ever changing world, the companies who embrace this concept will be the leaders in the industry.
Earsa Jackson, CFE, is the Practice Area Leader for Strasburger’s Frinchise & Distribution Group. Find her at fransocial.franchise.org.