SHIFT Business Festival is all about connecting diverse people and businesses to foster growth and innovation. Why do we think so highly of diversity?
Being surrounded by people with matching interests, shared worldviews, and similar backgrounds is very comfortable. You get along well and your ideas are greeted with enthusiasm. What is not to like! But are things going a bit too smoothly? Maybe you have heard someone say that comfort kills growth? Does it feel like your learning curve could be steeper?
When there is a lack of opposing views, challenging questions, or unexpected viewpoints – in other words, nobody is poking holes in your theories or detecting weak points in your reasoning – you might be experiencing rather sluggish progress in your endeavours.
Likemindedness is great, but bringing together diverse minds is what stimulates new thinking. At least at SHIFT, this is the way we see the world. And this is the concept that drives our two-day inspirational and fun SHIFT Business Festival organised yearly in Turku, Finland. We believe that the greatest innovations are not created alone, nor in echo chambers of uniform expertise. On the contrary, our mission is to enable unlikely matches between people, businesses, science, and arts to foster innovation.
Let me give you a concrete example of how I first realised the importance of diversity. This happened already years before SHIFT, at a training about diversity in team building. A group of approximately twenty people was sorted into four smaller groups based on a personality test we had taken previously. Each group was given the same task – ideating a recreational day for the employees of an imaginary company. And the results could not have been more different.
One group produced a meticulous plan including cost estimates, timetables, and risk analysis. They just forgot about the recreational part.
Another group thought it would be a great idea to build everything around a competition, complete with a trophy to be showcased on the winner’s office desk. Adrenaline rush guaranteed.
The third group focused on harmony. They wished to involve everyone in the planning and make sure they felt included. They ended up with a bunch of safe options – even the option to opt out.
The fourth group went for a full-blown festival. A day packed with fun and games, an experience of a lifetime. Only, nobody was really bothered about the practicalities.
I like to share this example because it so concretely shows how similarity does not always deliver the best results, even when we are drawn to it. In fact, studies show that people are suckers for resemblances when recruiting new colleagues or choosing a mentor for themselves, for instance. Because it feels comfortable! But if you wish to challenge your thinking, it is a good idea to diversify your surroundings.
This is why we at SHIFT like to encourage everyone to embrace a wider perspective. When choosing a teammate, board member, or even a co-founder, ask yourself what it is that you do not know? Who could complement your skills? Who could make you a little bit uncomfortable? We aim to serve as a link between growth-minded people and businesses in creative ways, the yearly business festival being one the most effective ones.
Now, you might want to know which group I was in. The festival one, of course! And I can assure you, that we have a diverse team making SHIFT happen so that plans are made, budgets created, inclusivity taken into account and a little adrenaline pumped into the system. Because diverse thinking is how we can provide the best possible experience and create opportunities for unlikely matches.
Jutta Ruusunen, CEO
Jutta Ruusunen is the CEO of SHIFT Events Oy, a dynamic organization that brings people and ideas together to enable innovation, SHIFT Business Festival being the highlight of the year. Jutta’s background is in international communication, marketing, and leisure business, and she has led diverse teams both professionally and in volunteer organizations. She is especially interested in how team dynamics, diversity, and inclusion can have a positive impact at work places and in society at large.
SHIFT Business Festival is a two day business event in Turku, Finland, organised on 24-25 August. SHIFT 2022 invites guests to reconnect and challenge their thinking regarding leadership in a digitalised world, technology and sustainability.
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