Dr Zara Whysall, Research & Impact Director at Kiddy & Partners June 27 2023

The power of aligned, but diverse, communities

The final tension from our Rapid Evolution series looks at the power to be gained from diversity when people have a common destination to unite behind.

The final tension that needs to be balanced to achieve Rapid Evolution is diverse communities vs. unified alignment.

Adaptation to changing environments is powered by diversity. The greater the level of diversity, the stronger the level of adaptability and higher the chances of survival. Diversity of thought, of perspective and approach help to reduce potential blind spots in what is (or isn't) anticipated and planned for as a business, and provides a broad repertoire of skills, tools and approaches to draw upon.

In evolutionary biology, Rapid Evolution is enabled by increasing the diversity within an given population. Like a Swiss Army knife, having many different variations - or branches of evolution - that can be drawn upon, depending on what best meets the needs of the ever-changing external demands.

Yet this diversity must be aligned at a high level, connected by shared values, via a co-created language and culture which binds employees and customers or users together. A sense of community creates stickiness - the more linkages individuals have to each other and to the organisation, the more likely they are to stay. Embeddedness is a well-established factor to enhancing organisational commitment and retention, both for employees and customers or clients. Applied to customers, this is about moving beyond providing a product or service to embedding the brand within and across communities. Community embeddedness unlocks loyalty for the longer-term and creates ripple adoption. For employees, this sense of community and shared vision allows differences to be respected and valued, whilst creating cohesion at the deeper level to ensure these differences are harnessed to contribute towards achieving the same vision.

Cohesion to move forwards, at pace, requires alignment regarding the ultimate direction and priorities. Without this, there is friction which creates wasted energy and detracts from the forwards momentum. Deep misalignment issues, for instance relating to fundamental disagreements on the vision - as opposed to the journey -  must be addressed early before too much energy is wasted and time lost heading towards the different destinations. 

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