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How Diversity Can Give You the Biggest Competitive Advantage When you have a homogeneous team, you often discover too late that your idea doesn't work in reality

By Dr. Finn Majlergaard

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

You and your friends have got a great idea you want to turn it into a product or solution. You have known each other for a very long time, you work together very well and you also think alike. But most importantly - you trust each other.

That seems to be the ideal situation for a group of entrepreneurs who want to start a new venture - right?

Unfortunately, that is not the case. If you start a new venture together with people who are more or less clones of yourself, you expose yourself to a lot of risks and miss a lot of opportunities

Create a Diversified Team

In most Indian start-ups I have had the privilege of working with mainly consisted of men, who had the same education, gone to the same university, belong to the same age group and come from the same social class. They work very well together because they have so many things in common.

But when you have a very homogeneous team, you develop a tunnel vision when it comes to spotting new opportunities and discover threats to your project in time.

When you have a great and unique idea and you want to turn it into a start-up, there are always two possibilities.

  1. You have seen something no one else has seen before you
  2. You don't see what everyone else sees because you are blinded by the idea

When you have a homogeneous team, you often discover too late that your idea doesn't work in reality.

So in order to increase the likelihood of success try to put a diversified team together. If you are a group of 30-year-old Indian men who have gone to school and university together, try to challenge yourself.

  • Get other age groups in your team
  • Get women in your team
  • Get people of other nationalities in your team e.g. on an advisory board
  • Get other professionals in your team
  • Get people with different life experiences in your team

When You Have a Diversified Team, Many Great Things Will Happen

Because you have a diversified team, you will have different perspectives. You also have different experiences and you take different things for granted. You actually learn a lot from explaining something you yourself take for granted.

Ideas Which Have Never Been Presented Before, Will Be Presented

A diverse group of people will develop a pool of ideas and various solutions to a problem. This way, you get a much broader and more holistic range of ideas and solutions to your problems. A situation that seems novel to you might be well-known to other group members. When you have more (diverse) ideas to choose from, you are more likely to choose a really good one.

You Will Discover Threats to Your Project Much Earlier So That You Have Time to Develop a Solution

Imagine that your team is a radar screen. If you are all alike, you all end up looking in the same direction. If you have a diversified team, you get a 360-degree view of what is happening around you and you become much better at assessing what is coming towards you.

Is it the light at the end of the tunnel or a train coming towards you? That can be difficult to determine unless you have many different resources to draw on.

You Will Get Through a Crisis Much Easily

Starting up a company is hard. I haven't met a single entrepreneur who hasn't been through tough times or a crisis. When you have a diversified team it is less likely that you will all be in a crisis at the same time. So you can encourage and help each other during tough times.

So think diversity when you put your team together. It pays off.

Dr. Finn Majlergaard

CEO of Gugin

Dr. Finn Majlergaard is the CEO of Gugin, helping entrepreneurs and companies around the world to become more successful internationally. He does this by helping his clients leverage their cultural diversity. Culturally diverse teams are more innovative and a diversified international network gives endless new opportunities. He also helps entrepreneurs develop a strong company culture from the very beginning;

He founded Gugin in 2001 and he has worked with more than 600 companies and entrepreneurs around the world, helping them become better at leveraging the opportunities and mitigating the risks of a globalised world.

He is also an Author, Keynote Speaker, Board Member and Entrepreneur and he teaches at several universities and business schools around the world on global leadership, cross-cultural leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Dr.Majlergaard holds a doctoral degree from International School of Management in Paris, Tokyo, New York and Shanghai and an MBA from Henley Management College, UK.

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