Want to innovate? Then it’s time to embrace inclusion
We all know the phrase too many cooks spoil the broth.
It’s the idea that, by allowing projects to be pulled apart by too many people, collective wisdom turns to opaque objectives and muddled feedback.
In the extreme, this is true. Without forward momentum, excess collaboration can become a quagmire of inefficiency. But in general, I tend to disagree. While including many voices may slow a project down, it also makes outcomes more robust and resilient.
Companies often don’t get this right. In an agile age where there’s so much pressure to get products out the door, people tend to rush forward as fast as possible.
Being inclusive forces teams to slow down. They have to open their eyes and ears to different ideas and perspectives. Sometimes, this means having commonly held beliefs challenged – which can be uncomfortable.
But it’s small price to pay to get the best result possible – for both the customer and wider society.
Being inclusive is something I’m really passionate about – and I’m glad to say Fujitsu is too.
Inclusion has so many permutations. But one of the most exciting ones is reaching out to other organisations. At Fujitsu, I lead our academic partnering programme and with universities in particular. But small businesses (including start-ups), charities, and expert organisations are also all organisations we’re keen to work with.
External organisations hold experience, research, and different points of view that complement our customers and our own perspectives. So when addressing any challenge, we try and get their input as much as possible.
A great example of this is a recent project where we were investigating pollution on construction sites. We ran a virtual digital transformation workshop, and invited 20 people from six organisations (including academia) to come and share their knowledge.
This provided a plethora of research and expertise that we’d otherwise not have access to. From the impact of pollution on local communities, to how IoT technology can be used to fight emissions, the conversation was much richer than it’d otherwise be.
Rather than rush towards development, we were able to properly examine the problem – meaning the solution will inevitably be much stronger.
Inclusion isn’t all about reaching out. Sometimes it’s about looking internally too, and ensuring all our colleagues are heard.
‘Be completely you’ is a phrase I hear a lot, and I completely agree with it. The best ideas come when we’re at our most comfortable and happy. A business priority therefore has to be creating an environment where everyone feels free to express themselves.
I think this is an area Fujitsu gets right – and our HQ is really leading the way in Japan as well as across our regions. We have multiple networks designed to engage groups across our organisation, from people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ employees, gender, cultural and the younger members of our workforce. This gives people a stronger collective voice, as well the opportunity to network and find mentorship.
We also have projects like Buddy Connect, which uses technology to help neurodiverse individuals settle into their working environment and connect with colleagues.
And finally, looking at the current crisis, we’ve done a remarkable job at embracing remote working en masse. Within days, we’d pivoted our entire culture to working from home. And as we learn more about what our workforce enjoys about a more flexible working culture, I’m sure we’ll be looking at capturing these benefits going into the future.
Whether you’re looking internally or externally, innovation is ultimately about inclusion. And I think this is an area Fujitsu really excels at.
Employee D&I is a huge focus for us right now. And while many technology companies like to hide their partners, we’re proud to wear them on our sleeves. We’re not shy about bringing in outside opinions – and in fact, it’s our longest, strongest relationships that tend to be the most fruitful.
This commitment to inclusivity really shows in the strength of our partnerships and the versatility of our solutions. In fact you could say, to go back to our too-many-cook analogy, the proof of our success really is in the pudding.
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