I once attended a lecture that spoke of innovation as the principle of creating connections from totally different worlds. Using the metaphor of the suitcase “with wheels”, it is still interesting to see that objects so temporally distant in origin (the wheel was created in 4500 BC, the modern suitcase appeared in the middle of the 20th century) end up generating something new as utility only in 1970. It took a long time for two good inventions to generate a third, but this example demonstrates that incredible things can arise from the collision of different contexts, realities and perspectives.
I have always seen advertising as an instrument capable of bringing about change, generating social transformation, promoting representation and, naturally, catalyzing innovation. But what I have seen in many corporate environments is a certain standardization of ideas and ritualism based on a weak diversity in the training of staff and teams. Consequently, there is not much room left for the salutary confrontation that generates novelty.
The reflection I bring here is about the field of urgency in creating multidisciplinary teams, with different types of background, age and, mainly, life repertoire. In corporate environments, we always end up coming across people who attended the same universities, took the same courses, who move in the same innovation circles, aligned with the same trends. I even dare to say that they are people capable of imputing the same prompts in any ChatGPT and being displeased with different results that the “creativity” of the AI can generate.
With a certain frequency, in the advertising market, we see some agencies and clients consulting open reports, surveys and big numbers to base their recommendations and presentations, shortening the path and saving time to reflect on whether those data are in fact true or just a confirmatory bias.
The problem is that we all read, listen and consume practically the same content and you can’t just blame the “algorithm” for that. The risk of having companies with a less diversified recruitment model is the risk of closing in on ourselves, in one-dimensional teams. It’s reducing reality to the same insights, recommendations and solutions. And the question that remains: Are we producing something new or just generating more of the same, reproducing noise? – when the questions should be: What human can each one bring in their baggage? Where are we not looking? Are we really willing to broaden the debate by creating spaces for inclusion?
In the selection processes of our companies, we should give voice to people from the peripheries, without the same opportunities and privileges of studying at colleges A or B, but equally qualified. We should be genuinely interested in opening doors for racial minorities, people with disabilities and LGBTQIA+ voices to have a voice in the job market. Gender equality echoes in the corridors of change but still does not sit, on a daily basis, in leadership offices. And, even when it is the reconfiguration of the law that impels us to include it, aren’t we doing more than the mandatory minimum to look good in photography, or in slideshows?
I often reflect on whether we are actually cooperating (as communicators, creatives, publicists, managers, marketers…) with the perpetuation of rhetoric echoing in our bubbles of opinion and communication. Always giving them the opportunity and not using that enormous power that is the “difference” to solve real problems.
Working in strategy for years, I really value the evidence from studies and reports so that we can bring something relevant to the table, with a good theoretical foundation. But, beyond validations, I also think it is necessary to reflect on the “fragments of information” that algorithms do not bring. That only the field, interdisciplinarity, the clash of opinions or the experience of different situations can bring. In order to develop strategies, it is not possible to be a mere passive observer. And, in the “cancellation” era, having multidisciplinary teams, with different perspectives and speaking places, should be even more valued by enabling the validation of our creations and publications according to different sensibilities. And so we wouldn’t be so exposed to repeating mistakes or opting for the standardized path that puts replicated campaigns on the streets, which no longer represent anyone, or that directs funds and resources to generalist influencers or to those famous as usual.
Throughout my professional journey I came across inspiring people, from social and political spectrums very different from mine. But this is not always the case in work environments.
Where there is greater equality of opportunity for all, valuing diverse work groups, there will at least be the possibility of moving beyond the average. It is increasingly urgent that we pay attention to the sections of society that are not being represented. We must do more, together, with different people. Or else there is no innovation.
Let’s follow the good examples here at home, such as the social hub Manicómio, Critical Software or Farfetch, because diversity is the winning strategy in the era of “convergent thinking”. And innovation, this one, starts with us.
Opinion article signed by Luciana Esteves, innovation strategist at Fullsix
Source: Meios & Publicidade by www.meiosepublicidade.pt.
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