Think Differently with 3 Tips for Using Creativity in Your Diversity Messaging

January 2, 2014

To boost your creativity and that of your messaging, seek out differences and use them to consider problems in new ways. Look for the intersections of people, places, cultures, disciplines or any other hub because that is where you may also find your inspiration.

1. Leverage the “superadditive” power of diversity.

When you have a complex problem, create a team of people who see the world and solve problems in a different way than you do. These teams are much more innovative and productive than homogenous teams.

Diversity is “superadditive,” meaning that 1 + 1 = 3.

How? When a group of people work on a problem, one person makes an improvement, then another person builds on that improvement, then a third person, and so on. Improvements build on improvements for novel solutions.

Another way to leverage the power of diversity — but without a team — is to challenge yourself to actively bring together models from unrelated sources, such as different industries, disciplines and cultures.

Being deliberate about looking at a problem from totally unconsidered angles helps us increase our own capacity for creativity and it helps us create fresh new ways to create brand messaging and more.

The difference is how the power of diversity creates better groups, firms, schools and societies, according to Scott Page’s book “The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools and Societies.”

2. Inspire with your messaging.

Creating messages that only inform are not as likely to propel action as messages that inspire.

Why do we fail to inspire? We either talk in terms of the “what,” like results, or the “how,” which is the process we use to achieve the results. Neither is inspiring.

Your “why” is a belief or your bigger purpose and is the story that connects you to your authentic self. It seems that the “why” is about authenticity — your identity. To write inspirational authentic diversity messages, work with organizations to discover their diversity-related “why.”

Just remember: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” says Simon Sinek, author of “Start with the Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.” To help yourself or companies find their “why,” he recommends that you help CEOs go back to why they started their company to begin with. For example, the why for the CEO of Southwest Airlines was not to create an airline with inexpensive fares but to democratize the skies so people could visit who they love without any limits.

If you want to do more to maximize the ability of your team to be creative, then ensure that you have spent time developing a culture of trust. In fact, you will draw other people to you who value an inclusive culture in which it is safe to experiment, to be wrong and to fail.

3. Use “storydoing.”

Stories are another inspiration tool for you to use when informing with your message is not enough.

Ty Montague’s “True Story: How to Combine Story and Action to Transform Your Business” is different than most other storytelling books. It motivates readers and focuses on the action of the new products, services and experiences.

It contains examples from what he calls “storydoing” companies such as Red Bull and Toms Shoes who infuse storytelling into all aspects of their brand experience, from customer service to product design to public relations.

He explained the benefits of storydoing in a post for Fast Company this past Aug. 5.

“When it is done correctly, storydoing is simply better business. For instance, the best storydoing companies can reduce their cost of paid media dramatically — sometimes to zero. And there is growing evidence that this actually makes them more efficient businesses.”

Now, go create!


Raji A. Rhys, Ph.D., is nationally recognized in strategic and integrated marketing communications with specialties in diversity, social influence and cognitive errors. She is the assistant vice president and chief diversity officer of the Executive Office of the President at the University of Arizona. She is also on the executive board of The National Association of Chief Diversity Officers in Higher Education.


Dr. Cindi Gilliland says:

I love how this article combines the power of leveraging difference with the informative and inspirational appeal of "storydoing." This seems like a great way to reduce the all-too-common problem of diversity backlash in organizations.

Jan. 13, 2014

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