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Philosophy on Diversity

In the unit I am taking command of, we value an environment of continual improvement, agile delivery, and rapid innovation and risk-taking. These are the philosophies and behaviors that will enable us to win, and that will enable our customers to win in competition and conflict against our adversaries. Each of these philosophies and behaviors requires a diversity of thought.

Diversity of thought breaks through group-think. Diversity of thought raises issues early, and solves them more quickly.

Diversity of thought is not something you can see simply by looking at a group of people. It may be something you will see if that group is actively arguing and discussing professionally. It is definitely something leaders can build into a team, if they already understand the people they’re recruiting for a team - like, if we’re building a dev team from known employees. We even have some common measures of diversity that relate to diversity of thought - like Meyers Briggs and other personality tests. Those tests generally have issues, if you are concerned with evidence-based approaches, but they can still tell us about ourselves and our coworkers.

Many measures of diversity exist - we spend a lot of time in our society talking about gender, race, religion, age, and sexuality, but there are many many more. Hometown, background experiences, friend groups… Some are very visible, some are easy to write down, many others are invisible. Experience tells me that improving diversity across these measures will almost certainly result in improved diversity of thought.

I have seen our society often use some very visible measures of diversity as a heuristic - a way to simplify the discussion around building diversity. I have seen our society often fail to answer the “why” around diversity, society often glosses over the value of diversity. That leaves people wondering - what is our goal, in valuing diversity?

Well - my goal is to improve our military’s lethality by improving our diversity of thought. We will use intentional measurements along with heuristics to build that diversity of thought. Fostering diversity of thought will foster rapid innovation and responsible risk-taking, it will unlock new areas in which we can continually improve, and it will make us more responsive to our customers.

Not to mention the fact that - our adversaries do not value diversity. Sameness is part of their core identity. The National Security Strategy still highlights China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and a variety of terrorist organizations around the world as adversaries. Each considers diversity, by most measures, counter to their philosophy. I’ll take almost any opportunity to stymie those actors, so count me on team diversity.