The law of averages is the law that usually reflects wishful thinking or a primitive understanding of statistics rather than any mathematical principle.
Motivational speaker Jim Rohn said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. These people affect our thinking and our decisions. While it’s ideal to be closely surrounded by positive, supportive people, it’s also necessary to have your critics. According to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research, novices have a preference for positive feedback, but experts want negative feedback, so that they can make improvement. Glenn Llopis wrote in Forbes that without critics, you’d never sharpen your skills or develop mental toughness.
Magic of Diversity
When we are talking about diversity, we are focused on fairness in the workplace, and society for women and minority groups. Now, the meaning is changing. There is a positive correlation between diversity and better financial performance. When you create diversity in teams you are, 15% more likely to have financial returns above the national industry media. (See McKinsey Diversity Matters” Report 2015 Feb.) They found the following facts with diversity organizations:
- 57% increase in performance against goals
- 24% greater retention
- 21% more emotional commitment to colleagues
- 11% lift in discretionary effort (i.e. engagement)
There are reasons why:
- Teams that are made up of one gender, race, technical or age group cannot see things from any other perspective than their own. Homogeneous groups seldom go beyond their shared approach or beyond their shared values and experiences. Since there are no ‘agitators’ totake them out of their comfort zone, they reach an agreement quickly and feel good about it.In this atmosphere, individual’s true capacity and intelligence are limited by the human desire to fit in the group.
- When diverse team members are encouraged to express their perspectives, and to challenge homogeneous thinking, that is good for our brains, creative thinking.
Your information sources
Do you always read the same newspaper, the same TV program, the same magazine, or talk to the same people? The leading thinkers, in any field, diversify the information sources to make them creative. Information sources that is too narrow (ex: field of expert) risk missing out the power of diversity. Remember that diversity of your contact circle can change your law of averages as well.
Scanning through diverse ideas is potentially a lot of time wasted, but again you may be hitting gold by just diversifying your perspectives.