Today’s organizations face complex environments and need to make decisions regarding areas of strategic importance. Cognitive diversity is an important yet often overlooked element in successful decision-making processes.

Individuals possess different views and opinions on issues based on their unique experiences and contextual knowledge. The broader the range of different types and amounts of cognitive diversity within a group, the better will be the decision-making process.

Defining Cognitive Diversity
A team that emphasizes cognitive diversity is one that is more likely to use a wide range of different views, opinions and expertise to determine their outcome. Cognitive diversity can be defined as the different perspectives of individuals within a group. Cognitive diversity is not just based on demographics, although this may often play a part.

Cognitive diversity can be thought of as one element, along with other factors such as experience or education, that contribute to the team’s overall problem-solving ability.

Examples of Cognitive Diversity
Cognitive diversity can be intuitively understood by looking at some of the different forms it may take. An individual’s cultural background is one example of cognitive diversity within an organization.

The premise underlying this form of cognitive diversity is that any given situation or problem has multiple meanings depending on the cultural context in which it is interpreted.

Two individuals from different cultural backgrounds will view the same situation differently, based on their culture’s distinct way of thinking about the world.

People within organizations often possess other forms of cognitive diversity as well. These include educational or technical experiences that others may not have, and this variability can be beneficial for coming up with innovative solutions.

Another type of cognitive diversity is the sharing and leveraging of different experiences within a group. This helps to put an individual’s experience into context or compare it with others’ similar experiences to view something from a new perspective.

Their different experiences may allow them to view a situation from a unique perspective, resulting in better decisions.

Cognitive Collaboration
Cognitive diversity is a vital element for any successful group and will lead to better cognitive collaboration. Cognitive collaboration occurs when two or more individuals put their knowledge together to solve a problem.

Cognitive diversity is an essential aspect for any group, team or business because it allows everyone to develop a solution that may not have been possible with just one perspective.

The more different ways of thinking that are present in a group, the greater the chance for cognitive diversity and thus, better problem-solving.