The current paper discusses the peculiarities of envisioning diversity and its understanding as an adaptive challenge. Many organizations try to consider different aspects to create appropriate working conditions, offer the best services, and demonstrate successful results. However, these companies cannot solve diversity-related problems in time and face several challenges. In addition to the technical challenges inherent in the majority of American companies, certain adaptive challenges are characterized by difficult procedures and the necessity of a deeper evaluation of assumptions and values. Change is inevitable for any company has to survive from time to time, and when change is based on diversity, adaptive challenges may take place and have to be solved by the guidelines given by the professionals like Heifetz and Linsky. The example of how envisioning diversity, as an adaptive challenge, may be achieved by a company is given in the paper.
Key-words: envisioning diversity, change, adaptive challenges, technical challenges
The desire to analyze diversity is usually based on the necessity to know more about the environmental exclusiveness and the reasons of why people are so eager to be divided into groups. Cultural diversity in a society is a thing that can be hardly neglected due to the necessity to consider people’s behavior and try to avoid misattribution and dysfunctional relationships (Bhawuk, Landis, & Munusamy, 2009). Nowadays, people face several diversity-related problems and the necessity to find the most rational solution. Some researchers define envisioning diversity as a possible adaptive challenge because of the impossibility to find out a clear solution or the possibility to make use of controversial ideas only (Cortes and Wilkinson, 2009). To create and support the development of a successful organization, it is not enough to find the best solution only; it is necessary to analyze the situation, comprehend its nature, and choose the most fitting approach in case cultural diversity is considered to be one of the reasons for employee turnover and the inabilities to make professional managers stay.
Importance of Envisioning Diversity
As a rule, many organizations suffer from the inability to solve diversity-related challenges within a short period. Still, some companies demonstrate the desire to hire more diverse people and offer interesting and unique approaches to solve the existing problems. Such intentions lead to the promotion of envisioning diversity, the ability to create or refine the vision, develop personally, lead more effectively, or behave more empathetically (Cortes & Wilkinson, 2009). The importance of envisioning in the organizational development is evident indeed because it helps to create the necessary portion of visions and promote safe multicultural future within the frames of which it is possible to synthesize the knowledge and get inspired. As soon as people understand the importance of envisioning in their lives, they get a chance to think about the desirable future and overcome the restraints created because of cultural, economic, ethical, etc. differences.
The United States is the country where the immigrants are considered to be the main working group (Healey, 2012). This is why leaders try to use multicultural envisioning to deal with different “realities, inevitabilities, opportunities, and challenges of living and working in a world of striking differences and often unrecognized human commonalities” (Cortes & Wilkinson, 2009, p.18).
Organizations may address diversity in a variety of ways; still, the most evident are as follows: organizational diversity may lead to discrimination within a company, or diversity may promote the process of learning and consideration of the demands of different cultural groups. Envisioning diversity is usually characterized by action (a kind of stimulus using which a vision can be expanded), continuity (the possibility to recreate a vision), and enrichment (a chance to become a more diversity-responsible organization). At the same time, Bennett (2015) underlines the fact that cultural diversity is the kind of certainty that is characterized by uncertainty. This is why the essence of envisioning diversity is so hard to understand; still, this is what envisioning diversity means and how it should be treated by an organization to achieve the desirable change.
Diversity as a challenge
Leadership and management can be easy and safe in case people can find the solutions of the existing problems without any difficulties. People know about the possibility of technical challenges and try to find out the solutions to such problems and continue the process. However, many organizations are weakened by their inability to consider the presence of adaptive challenges defined by Heifetz and Linsky (2011) as the problems that require several experiments and unique approaches to be solved. If technical problems may be solved with certain knowledge and several activities that are taken regularly, adaptive challenges require some new knowledge and innovations that offer a novelty. Very often, the organizations are eager to hire new people so that they can offer some extraordinary non-inherent to the company ideas.
Cortes and Wilkinson (2009) suggest considering envisioning diversity as one of the adaptive challenges inherent to a company. The point is that the problems and misunderstandings that take place based on cultural differences and inabilities to find out a consensus can hardly be solved with the help of knowledge available. The company must learn deeper the peculiarities of a new culture and the expectations of workers, who may suffer from cultural diversity. This is why when it is stated that envisioning diversity should be defined as an adaptive challenge, it means that diversity-related problems have to be solved with a portion of new knowledge and some experiments. It is very important to take into consideration the current events, some cultural peculiarities, and the reasons of a conflict and rely on theory as well as on the examples demonstrated by other companies while solving the same problems. This importance of additional research is explained by the adaptive nature of the challenges.
Envisioning Diversity in a Company
One of the envisioning statements offered by Cortes and Wilkinson is about the possibility to use diversity as a chance to learn and promote effective services regarding cultural differences. It means that envisioning diversity promotes the company to value certain personal and cultural experiences and develop the perspectives using which the quality of services offered may be improved. For example, an ordinary counseling company may hire the representatives of different cultural groups and, instead of dividing employees according to their social status and ethnicity, provide people with an opportunity to share their experiences and develop the services regarding different cultural aspects. With the help of such ability, the company can consider the possible demands of people with different cultural backgrounds and avoid misunderstandings that influence the results of the work.
In general, the evaluation of envisioning diversity and its consideration as an adaptive challenge help to realize that any company is under a threat of being caught by the circumstances and being obliged to make the solutions that have been never made before. Though it is not an easy task to find the solutions for the problems with different causes, every company has a chance to try, use new knowledge, offer unique approaches, and win from the novelty got. This is how envisioning diversity has to be treated and solved as an adaptive challenge with several perspectives. The company cannot neglect an opportunity to benefit from culturally diverse employees, but, at the same time, the company has to be careful enough not to suffer from the changes caused by the development of adaptive challenges like envisioning diversity.
Bennett, J.M. (2015). The SAGE encyclopedia of intercultural competence. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Bhawuk, D.P.S., Landis, D., & Munusamy, V.P. (2009). Understanding the basics of culture. In M.A. Moodian (Eds.), Contemporary leadership and intercultural competence (pp.7-16). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Cortes, C.E. & Wilkinson, L.C. (2009). Developing and implementing a multicultural vision. In M.A. Moodian (Eds.), Contemporary leadership and intercultural competence (pp.17-34). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Healey, J.F. (2012). Diversity and society: Race, ethnicity and gender. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Heifetz, R. & Linsky, M. (2011). Becoming an adaptive leader. Lifelong Faith, 26-33. Web.