One of the many advantages of working within a project team is that it offers access to diversity in numerous dimensions. Often, the team is assembled according to who is available and who has the requisite skills; rarely does the PM have the luxury of a selection process. Nevertheless, diversity within the team will present itself in many facets, including skills, experience, background, education, attitude and personal preferences.
All of these are in addition to the traditional diversity considerations of age, race, gender, sexuality and ethnic origin.
Individually, each of us represents a complex range of preferences and experiences that shape our approaches and attitudes. This diversity is essential to the success of a project team. Imagine how a project can be hindered if the project team does not have the ability to:
- Assess a project context using tools such as PESTLE to encourage diverse thinking;
- Understand multiple aspects of the scope of a project from the perspective of having different skills/experience/background;
- Assess negative risks from a number of perspectives, including being risk-prone or risk-averse, the proximity or distance of the likely occurrence, and the magnitude of impact;
- Have members of a team who understand and represent opportunity (positive risks), seeing potential advantages, benefits and increased success;
- Address change requests while seeing both a holistic view of the project and the potential impact of a change, together with the detailed understanding of the potential to affect time, cost, quality, delivery and satisfaction; Use a diverse approach to manage conflict;
- Employ situational leadership to adjust leadership approaches to suit the context.
Those of us working in a project or programme context are well aware of the team roles and models provided by the experience of Meredith Belbin, Dr Margerison, Dr McCann and G M Parker (to name but a few). All of these models categorise the diversity of people through defining labels, behaviours and outcomes of different approaches and perspectives.
Diversity of people and perspective is what brings value to a team approach, combined with mutual respect and appreciation to encourage dialogue
and to achieve success.