Friday, June 19, 2015

Disruption with Technology and People

What is fascinating to me is that the concept of disruption is lauded with praise on a regular basis with respect to technology--whether it is Uber changing the model of taxi service, or Amazon changing how we purchase books (and now everything else).   Disruption is about revisiting truths that people have held for a great deal of time, turning them on their head and finding a new way to look at them.

Inclusion is the same is just disrupting how we think about people.  Instead of having systems where women receive less pay than men, what if we revisit our systems and have them paid equally?  Instead of having unconscious bias influence the way we select people for positions, what if we eliminated it from the process and selected them and promoted them truly based on their merit?  Instead of mentoring people with whom we feel most comfortable, what if we mentored someone outside of our normal circles so we could both learn something new?

Disruption is what resulted in the Wright brothers inventing modern flight, women receiving the right to vote, and all black Texas Western team beating Kentucky in the NCAA championship, Jackie Robinson playing baseball---these were all disruptions.  Some with technology, some with people...but they each have changed the modern landscape.   There a are plenty of truths, but one day we can say "no it isn't", and move in a different diretion.

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Friday, May 29, 2015

High Touch through High Tech--Creating Unity Through Technology

High Tech and High Touch—Creating Unity Through Technology
By Daniel Guillory, CEO, Innovations International

Dr. William Guillory had an idea about 10 years ago.   Many times people talk about how institutions need to change to create a society where each person, with all of the differences they bring, can truly be a part of the mainstream.   However, that can seem like a challenging prospect to anyone.  The question Dr. Guillory asked was how each individual person can impact the world around them and create an environment of inclusion in their home, in their community, and at work.  That is something that is reachable and attainable for each and every one of us.   But he also asked one other question—if a number of us did chose to do this, could it have some larger effect….bigger than any one of us as individuals could have?

As a former scientist, naturally the first place he looked was...the world of….disease?   Yes…disease—plague, pestilence—those items that have quickly and efficiently created deadly situations for living creatures.    And what he realized as he learned was how different diseases moved virally.   At the same time, social networking via the internet was in its early stages.  Facebook, Friendster, LinkedIn, and Myspace were all in their infancy, but he observed that many of the principles of how news and information spread seemed similar.   As a scientist, he continued with his inquiry…the next question he asked was whether those some principles could be applied to the idea of inclusion?  Could we create a more inclusive society for people with these same principles, where people that are different have an opportunity to participate in the mainstream?

Any scientist tests out his theory in the laboratory.   In this case, the laboratory for Dr. Guillory was a large automobile manufacturer.   If we can make this work in a company, then we can hopefully make this work in the world.   Everyone in the organization was exposed to the idea that by doing small actions in behalf of the people that we see and interact with most often at work, we can change the environment.  Saying thank you to someone who you haven’t before, going to speak with someone in person instead of sending an email, inviting someone new to lunch, helping someone to learn a software program, or choosing to mentor a new employee—these small acts began to have a ripple effect in the organization and truly transformed the working environment.

However, just doing something “nice” for someone doesn’t ensure transformation of a relationship or collectively a culture, from exclusion to inclusion. The essential ingredient involves authenticity with no expectation in return. Adding this ingredient creates the potential for transformation in the quality of relationship; one small increment at a time. When practiced as a natural behavioral pattern, over time, the result is a collective distribution of inclusive relationships throughout a family, an organization, a society, or a planet of people.

The question at this point is “How do we begin to touch thousands or even millions of people?”  That is where we believe technology offers us the answer.   In spite of traditional barriers—race, gender, class, education, economic status—almost all adults have smartphones or information technology….in fact most say that they cannot see living without either or both.   Since they are such an important a part of our lives, technology is our entry point.

Our goal is to create a free mobile application where you can enter the 5 or 6 individuals closest to you.  And for each person, you can choose 1 or 2 small acts of inclusion or appreciation© for each of them.   The mobile app will remind you to do the act on a regular basis, and as you complete each of the actions, you will be acknowledged.  The more actions you complete, the more you will see your own tree of influence start to grow. As each of us are reminded and motivated to do this more, it becomes contagious (or viral) and influences those around us to do the same. 

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Using Technology to Disrupt Diversity and Inclusion

To me, technology offers a great opportunity to disrupt diversity & inclusion in so many different ways.  At its core, diversity and inclusion are about the willingness to experience personal growth and personal transformation.   Technology, with its ability to speed up my exposure to people, information and interactions has the capacity to change the life cycle on this process.

Think of the role that social media played in the Arab spring, or even something like the ice bucket challenge, and think of ways that we can increase the exposure that we have to divergent people, ideas, and perspectives.  

Now because we increasingly control what we consume, and because the internet is designed increasingly to cater to our preferences, there is a danger that we could become more narrow.   So many people that I know on Facebook share pictures of vacations, personal events , and milestones....but so many of them are with people who are from their same demographics in terms of race, class, education, etc.   What if we used the tools of the internet to show us perspectives and opinions different from our own?   I know I really enjoy the Daily Show, but to maintain some knowledge of other people's thinking, shouldn't I on occasion watch Fox News, Al-Jazeera, TV5Monde, Univision and others?   

For technology to speed the process and help us iterate diversity & inclusion, we must make certain that use it in a away that achieves that...not to make our experiences more narrow.

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