No matter whether we are running a hackathon, creative program, accelerator or kick starting a new services project, we always look at the underlying structure of the teams that we are working with. Year after year we have seen the statistics that show diverse teams outperform all others – and yet, we often see a consistency in team make-up that can limit the performance of that team.

What this often means is that we are not giving enough attention to the organisational design of our businesses or enterprises at the TEAM level. Sure, we may work to optimise our workplaces and business units, but how much effort and thinking do we put into our team design?

This is particularly noticeable when we are working on short term projects. These are often focused projects bound by sharp start and end dates. In the startup world, we think about diversity of skills and experience in terms of role:

  • Hackers – coders and programmers
  • Hipsters – designers and user experience experts
  • Hustlers – business focused sales and marketing professionals
  • Humanitarians – those with lived experience, domain and data expertise.

But role based diversity in a small team is just one dimension. When designing and enabling high performance teams, demographic diversity, experience, culture, disability and gender amongst other factors can all generate value within and beyond teams. When we add to this mix the power of lived experience and domain knowledge and align all these to clear objectives, measures and a permissive and supportive culture, we have a recipe for a high performance team.

But even the greatest recipe doesn’t always guarantee results. High performance teams also require one vital element. Kindness.

We share some of our tips and approaches to designing and generating diverse teams in our Short Course on Building Diverse Teams. It’s available free as part of our Disruptors Academy program.