Putting Our Differences To Work

The Fastest Way to Innovation, Leadership, and High Performance

Debbe Kennedy (Author)

Publication date: 06/01/2008

Putting Our Differences To Work

Debbe Kennedy shows how to make all the dimensions of difference—such as thinking styles, perspectives, experiences, work habits, and management styles, as well as more traditional diversity considerations like

* Shows how all types of differences, beyond those usually considered in diversity books, can accelerate the innovation needed to gain competitive advantage


* Defines five distinctive qualities leaders need to make differences a catalyst for success

* Lays out an easy-to-follow six-stage process for generating new levels of creativity, problem solving, leadership, and performance

* 2010 Axiom Business Book Award Winner in HR & Employee Training


Putting our differences to work means creating an environment where people, naturally unique and different-diverse by nature and experience-can work more effectively in ways that drive new levels of creativity, innovation, problem solving, leadership, and performance in the marketplaces, workplaces, and communities of the world. Debbe Kennedy shows how to make all the dimensions of difference-such as thinking styles, perspectives, experiences, work habits, and management styles, as well as more traditional diversity considerations like gender, race, ethnicity, physical abilities, sexual orientation, and age-tremendous sources of strength.

Kennedy draws on the latest research and a wealth of real-world examples to offer compelling evidence showing exactly how putting our differences to work accelerates innovation and contribution. She identifies five distinctive qualities of leadership that leaders must add to their portfolio of skills to make differences an engine of success. And she provides a detailed six-stage process for making the most of differences in the workforce, combining first-person best-practice stories and strategic with tactical ideas to help you put each step into action. Kennedy has written both a personal and a practical guide that changes the prevailing rules of how to think, behave, and operate as a leader, connecting four diverse elements of business and society that have traditionally been siloed: innovation, leadership, diversity, and inclusion. She and futurist Joel Barker also look at how new discoveries, including Web 2.0 technologies, can draw us closer together in previously unimagined ways.


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Overview

Debbe Kennedy shows how to make all the dimensions of difference—such as thinking styles, perspectives, experiences, work habits, and management styles, as well as more traditional diversity considerations like

* Shows how all types of differences, beyond those usually considered in diversity books, can accelerate the innovation needed to gain competitive advantage


* Defines five distinctive qualities leaders need to make differences a catalyst for success

* Lays out an easy-to-follow six-stage process for generating new levels of creativity, problem solving, leadership, and performance

* 2010 Axiom Business Book Award Winner in HR & Employee Training


Putting our differences to work means creating an environment where people, naturally unique and different-diverse by nature and experience-can work more effectively in ways that drive new levels of creativity, innovation, problem solving, leadership, and performance in the marketplaces, workplaces, and communities of the world. Debbe Kennedy shows how to make all the dimensions of difference-such as thinking styles, perspectives, experiences, work habits, and management styles, as well as more traditional diversity considerations like gender, race, ethnicity, physical abilities, sexual orientation, and age-tremendous sources of strength.

Kennedy draws on the latest research and a wealth of real-world examples to offer compelling evidence showing exactly how putting our differences to work accelerates innovation and contribution. She identifies five distinctive qualities of leadership that leaders must add to their portfolio of skills to make differences an engine of success. And she provides a detailed six-stage process for making the most of differences in the workforce, combining first-person best-practice stories and strategic with tactical ideas to help you put each step into action. Kennedy has written both a personal and a practical guide that changes the prevailing rules of how to think, behave, and operate as a leader, connecting four diverse elements of business and society that have traditionally been siloed: innovation, leadership, diversity, and inclusion. She and futurist Joel Barker also look at how new discoveries, including Web 2.0 technologies, can draw us closer together in previously unimagined ways.


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Meet the Author


Visit Author Page - Debbe Kennedy

Debbe Kennedy is founder, president, and CEO of Leadership Solutions Companies, an award-winning enterprise since 1990, specializing in custom leadership, organizational, and virtual communications solutions–and also the Global Dialogue Center, an online virtual gathering place for people throughout the world. The significance of Leadership Solutions Companies’ contributions is reflected in Debbe’s strategic business partnership with Hewlett Packard as a consultant spanning well over a decade. She has also serves as an Institute Collaborator with The Frances Hesselbein LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE (formerly Peter F. Drucker Foundation) since 2010 through the Global Dialogue Center.

Formerly, she had a distinguished leadership career with IBM Corporation for over twenty years.

About Putting Our Differences to Work

The Fastest Way to Innovation, Leadership and High Performance

Axiom Business Book Award Winner for HR/Employee Training (Bronze 2010)

Debbe’s award-winning book, Putting Our Differences to Work: The Fastest Way to Innovation, Leadership, and High Performance, practical guide that changes the prevailing rules of how to think, behave, and operate as a leader in the 21st Century...

  •  Illuminates five qualities for leaders and innovators at every level.
  •  Provides a proven step-by-step process for creating powerful teams based on difference.
  • Shares first-person stories and best practices to apply the new ideas to your team and organization.
  • Includes two “innovation at the verge” chapters, which Debbe Kennedy and Joel Barker wrote together.

WATCH VIDEO BOOK OVERVIEW by futurist and filmmaker, Joel A. Barker

Other READER RESOURCES for you...

Overview of the Book (Download a PDF Brochure)

Reader Reviews from diverse organizations around the world (PDF)

Discussion Guide for Teams, Reading Groups and Classes (PDF)

Debbe is also the author of Breakthrough! Everything You Need to Start a Solution Revolution and Action Dialogues: Meaningful Conversations to Accelerate Change (Berrett-Koehler 2000).

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Table of Contents



Foreword by Joel A. Barker

Preface

Introduction: The Fastest Way

PART 1 - TAKING LEADERSHIP TO A NEW LEVEL


Chapter 1: New Business Essentials

Chapter 2: Five Distinctive Qualities of Leadership

Chapter 3: The Basics: For Putting Our Differences to Work

PART 2 - KNOWLEDGE AND KNOW-HOW TO GUIDE THE WAY

Chapter 4: STEP 1—Assessment: Defining Current Realities

Chapter 5: STEP 2—Acceptance: Developing Support for Change

Chapter 6: STEP 3—Action: Moving Forward

Chapter 7: STEP 4—Accountability: Establishing Shared Ownership

Chapter 8: STEP 5—Achievement: Measuring Progress; Celebrating Success

Chapter 9:
STEP 6—More Action: Keeping Momentum Alive!

PART 3 - EVER-EXPANDING POSSIBILITIES


Chapter 10: Innovation at the Verge of Differences by Joel A. Barker

Chapter 11: Collaboration at the Verge of Differences

Chapter 12:
The Power of the Virtual Gathering Place

A Send-off: A Final Word

Resources and Studies

Notes and Sources

Acknowledgments

Index

About the Author

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Excerpt

Putting Our DIFFERENCES to WORK

The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.

—Mahatma Gandhi

Introduction
The Fastest Way

Organizations and individuals all over the world are discovering that putting our differences to work is the most powerful accelerator for generating new ideas, creating innovative solutions, executing organizational strategies, and engaging everyone in the process.

This book is about how to make your own discovery of this truth. It comes with everything you need to get started right where you are.

The breakthrough is the essential ingredient of diversity, in its broadest sense. Real value lies at the intersection of our differences. This encompasses everything from our thinking styles, problem-solving approaches, experiences, competencies, work habits, and management styles to our ethnic origins, cultural backgrounds, and generational insight (see the Dimensions of Difference illustration). All our differences give each of us a unique perspective from which to draw, including gender, race, physical abilities, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, age, and everything that makes us who we are

image

Dimensions of Difference

The value lies at the intersection of all that makes us different… as individuals. The magic begins when we come together. The secret is learning how, when, and where to tap into all the wealth of insight, wisdom, and new thinking to solve problems, create new products and services, and build stronger communities with benefits for everyone.

In 2005, I had an opportunity to get a memorable glimpse into our emerging generation of innovators and the experience of putting our differences to work today. I was invited to speak at an online Leadership Forum hosted by Microsoft on the topic of “How to Get Buy-in for New Ideas.” With innovation commonly being known as “the engine of growth,” I wasn’t too surprised when the Forum drew a crowd. In what seemed an instant, over 550 leaders showed up online. I had no idea at the time that the group was so diverse, because I could only see their names. Later, I learned they came from over twenty countries representing regions across the world, including Europe, Asia Pacific, Canada, Latin America, and the United States, demonstrating that people with new ideas are a universal treasure. They represented major companies from every industry, as well as entrepreneurs, government, military, education, health care, and community organizations. I discovered the group was a cross section of CEOs and senior leaders, managers of every type, as well as educators, business owners, ministers, and consultants. Imagine all this diverse talent coming together, peer to peer, meeting on common ground, because we were brimming with new ideas to bring to our respective organizations. Up front, I asked the group why they came to this particular session. I admit, I was moved by the responses. I recognized there was a deeper level of connection among us that would have been missed if I hadn’t asked the question. Ninety percent described themselves as change leaders or innovators with new ideas to improve their businesses and organizations. Nearly half indicated that, over and above their jobs, they had come because they hoped to change the world. And this was just a small random sampling of leaders at one meeting. I have learned, since this group heightened my own awareness, a growing number of us would describe ourselves and our missions in a similar way.

In this one hour, we accomplished much together. We learned about presenting new ideas and pinpointed common problems standing in the way of innovation, change, and growth in our organizations. The dialogue continued through emails and influenced a series of smaller online conversations that I hosted in the following weeks.

Three main issues generated the most comments, discussion, and correspondence afterward. They are indicators of the gaps that still exist between leaders and employees effectively putting their differences to work to innovate and influence organizational success. See if any of these sound familiar to you and what other truths you might add to the mix from your own experience:


  • Our company culture isn’t open to new ideas; process is more important. There is a lack of interest in change and innovation. Everyone sees the need; no one wants to take the risk. New approaches aren’t welcomed.
  • Gender, race, and age still play a role in acceptance of new ideas in our organization. If you think differently or ask too many questions, it leads to losing the respect of senior leaders.
  • Senior leaders/managers take ideas and present them as their own. The focus from our leaders is on execution of strategy; they’ve forgotten people are leading it for them. It would be great if they showed more interest in what people have to say.

These comments are good examples of common issues that stand in the way of putting our differences to work effectively across any organization. This kind of breakdown in communication erodes trust and impacts productivity and achievement in ways we may not even notice unless we are paying attention. Here is a question to consider for yourself and your organization:

What are the chances you or other leaders in your organization might be leaving similar impressions with those looking to you for leadership?

Most of us go along thinking we are doing a great job, so receiving this kind of feedback isn’t fun, often comes as a surprise—never at a good time—and is disappointing to the best of us. No one would purposely want to have members of their teams thinking this way. The important lesson we all need to remember is directly related to effectively putting our differences to work: it isn’t what we think we are doing that matters; it isn’t what we’ve said, think we’ve said, or wish we’d said; it is what others perceive and receive from us that has the sweeping influences—influences we often don’t realize restrict both the individuals and the organization from delivering the highest levels of results, innovation, leadership, and performance.

One of our biggest culprits is our language. Putting our differences to work requires that we develop the ability to communicate with the people we are counting on most to fulfill our business and organizational strategies and goals. This means reaching them, understanding what they need from us to be great themselves, so they can accomplish great things for the organization. To do this, we need to become conscious of what we say and how we say it. Eric Hoffer, a well-known American social writer, summed up this need nicely: “The leader has to be practical and a realist, yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist.” In recent years, “the visionary and the idealist” messages that come from a leader’s heart are frequently getting replaced with economic buzz words in sound-byte form. One example of this trend shows up in the results of a survey.

Top 10 CEO Challenges Overall
Rankings of Challenges of “Greatest Concern”

  1. Excellence in execution
  2. Sustained and steady top-line growth
  3. Consistent execution of strategy by top management
  4. Profit growth
  5. Finding qualified managerial talent
  6. Customer loyalty and retention
  7. Speed, flexibility, adaptability to change
  8. Corporate reputation
  9. Stimulating innovation/creativity/enabling entrepreneurship
  10. Speed to market

Source:The Conference Board, October 2007.

In October 2007, The Conference Board released its CEO Top 10 Challenges, reporting the results of a survey of 769 global CEOs from 40 countries. Each of these challenges is largely dependent on the commitment, ingenuity, brainpower, grit, and new ideas of the people behind them. But would you know people were important by the way these concerns are expressed? People were not mentioned as one of the “greatest concerns.” Unfortunately, many of these “people-less” words and expressions become our talking points—and we wonder why people don’t feel more energized, inspired, and engaged. Those of us who can most effectively eliminate inhibitors to putting differences to work within our teams and organizations will have a decided advantage because we will have developed new mindsets and skill sets about communicating with our people to support our success.

This book is a practical guide for leaders at all levels. It is designed to support any organization’s challenges by bringing out the best in everyone. It comes packed with knowledge, know-how, and inspiration to help you more effectively put differences to work. It establishes the need for change, offers real-to-life stories to prove its premise, and defines five distinctive qualities of leadership to lead the way. To help you map a goal-directed journey, it includes a well-defined process with six action steps, best practices, and both strategic and tactical ideas to foster your thinking and actions in making differences the catalyst for new thinking, new approaches, and new contributions that will serve business and society .

In a kind of paradox, I must admit the idea of putting our differences to work isn’t a trendy new concept. There is nothing trendy about it. It is steeped in substance. History is replete with examples that cover every kind of human experience in work and life, yet we still struggle with it.

In recent years, on many fronts, I think it’s safe to say that our confidence, our capacity, and our capability have been shaken. We’ve lost touch with the power we have when we join together, because opportunities to demonstrate it have been moved into the background amid lots of churn and pressures of doing more with less. In most cases, putting our differences to work has been unintentionally shadowed by an ever-increasing demand for the leader’s mind share and a time of massive change in the very nature of how we work and live.

What we may have forgotten is that we’ve proven over and over again that we know how to put our differences to work. In fact, this book has over twenty-five present-day stories demonstrating many of its lessons, qualities, and best practices in action. I’m certain, as you read the stories, you will be reminded of similar experiences you’ve had or stories with a little different twist. As I write, I’ve had my own flashbacks.

My first recollection of experiencing the power of putting our differences to work came in my first year as a new manager at IBM. How I got there was a story all its own that sets the stage.

I had a hip, metropolitan life in Los Angeles, California, where I worked at IBM’s landmark high-rise on Wilshire Boulevard. I had been with IBM for five years at the time. I visited Alaska on vacation late that summer and stopped by the IBM office. To my surprise, they offered me a job. In what seemed a flash, I accepted and boldly moved to what seemed, at the time, a foreign land: Anchorage, Alaska, a new business frontier.

I arrived in the dead of winter. I worked in IBM’s shoddy two-story building with old rusted-out desks and a broken elevator. The view from my new office was a far cry from the bustle of the well-groomed business district I was used to in L.A. Instead, it was a landscape devoid of any colors, except brown and white. It became an ever-present symbol of the drastic change before me. On my desk I kept my welcoming gift, a local book entitled Life without Lettuce. It was different all right—a pioneering journey of sorts. The job called upon me to adapt fast, be flexible, focused, and get fired up in this new uncharted territory.

In a short time, in stark contrast to the exterior brown and white landscape, I felt a vibrant energy inside this uncommon workplace. It was fun and full of life with a cast of characters you would never imagine working side by side. Because most of us had been imported from other places, we had no families nearby. It was indeed a melting pot.

We enjoyed the rewards of being the top revenue-producing office in the country in our division; topping all the charts, and getting lots of attention. In a short time, I was promoted to my first manager job, which put me among the first women managers at IBM in the northwest United States. The leadership team that I joined consisted of all men—most of whom could be described as the rough, gruff, rugged, earthy, bush pilot types.

After just four hours as a manager, we were all summoned into a makeshift conference room. The “big boss” from the “lower 48” had flown into town unannounced, and he didn’t look happy. He was the last to enter the room. I still remember how he slammed the door shut, and I recall his exact words: “All indications are that this is a failed corporate audit.” The news shocked me. It was the first time I realized it was possible to be one of the best offices and also one of the most out of control and not realize it. Our mission was then explained: we were to turn the place around if we were all to survive.

Survive we did—in a big way. We involved everyone. Many of us were called to work outside the comfort zones of our own jobs. We tapped into our differences, creatively calling upon diverse thinking styles, problem-solving skills, cultural knowledge, and even expertise in traveling to remote villages. For the most complex issues, we hand-picked the people on the team with a track record for knowing how to solve problems, instead of simply relying on our obvious experts who might be blinded by their own processes and methods, some of which had proven faulty in the audit. Top salesmen teamed with our all-women accounts receivable staff to use their clout, influence, and charm to collect huge sums of money long past due. Our rough and rugged “bush pilots,” familiar with the cultures in the back country of Alaska, partnered with sales and service, hopping in their planes to solve problems at remote customer sites. Technical support people aided those in charge of security to figure out how to better secure the building and the company’s assets. Administrative assistants were turned into analysts, responsible for establishing new business controls. I can still see our branch manager sitting in the “bullpen,” answering phones when it was necessary.

In a matter of months, with a lot of hard work, we were not only a top revenue-producing office but also one of the top operating organizations. Our team was recognized for its dedication to mission and innovative approach; our heroes were rewarded.

The following spring, I was promoted to a regional job in Seattle where I began helping other leaders work with their organizations to put differences to work to solve complex organizational problems. Much to my surprise, a few months into my new job, I was named Manager of the Year for my contributions in Alaska. I mention this only to point out the power and enduring influence leaders have on their people. What I’ve never forgotten is the character they demonstrated to me as a young leader. You see, because I had already moved on to a new assignment, consideration for this honor could have easily been pushed aside—you know, “out of sight; out of mind.” In fact, I’ve always known that choosing another manager for this honor certainly would have been more advantageous for the two managers making the decision. I recently read somewhere that one of the most profound tests of your character as a leader is the way you treat people who can no longer directly benefit you. The message made me think of Joe and Gerry, the two leaders involved. I don’t know where they are today, but not only did they teach me how to put differences to work and reward them; they also set a standard of leadership conduct and integrity that left an enduring imprint on me in the years that followed.

The lessons that came from that adventure in Alaska started with my life and work being turned upside down by change. I learned much from our unlikely team with many differences—a motley group who found themselves stuck with one another in an unexpected twist of fate with a critical mission to move mountains, solving the unsolvable in record time.

Much has changed in the world since then. Looking back, the story looks like just a good example of teamwork, doesn’t it? Perhaps at the time, “good teamwork” is all we could see in such an experience—maybe all we needed to see. Putting our differences to work at the level needed today asks much more of us than the obvious, seemingly commonplace attributes of teamwork and considerations of diversity, inclusion, and change that pop out in my Alaska story.

Putting our differences to work takes all we’ve learned about teamwork to a whole new level. It requires us to become skilled at working together across a broader spectrum of dimensions of diversity, as well as distance with precision, speed, and agility. Moreover, technology continues to reshape how, when, and where we connect, challenging us to remain open and trusting of the unknown and different.

We’ve fast-forwarded to a whole new workplace reality with few boundaries. Our environments are no longer traditional workplaces, and diversity is now a reality. We’re having to learn how to put our goals and shared values into the melting pot of the common good in order to creatively address the problems we have to solve together. In every direction, the problems for business and society call for not only the mind of a leader but the hearts and the consciences of each person.

The demand for leaders with increased knowledge, skills, and conscious people-focused habits is ever-rising as we move further into the twenty-first century. When you look around at the existing turmoil and uncertainty in the marketplaces, workplaces, and communities throughout the world, there is a sense of urgency about this need.

As I’ve witnessed and experienced this need in my own work, a repeated echo of wisdom, shared with me in the final days of the twentieth century comes back to me often. In what seemed a by-chance occasion at just the right time, I had the honor to meet Lieutenant General David H. Ohle, then deputy chief of staff for personnel for the United States Army at a special gathering at the Leader to Leader Institute (formerly the Peter F. Drucker Foundation) in New York. General Ohle was accompanied by a couple of officers from his leadership team. I admit that I was a bit surprised to discover the common challenges we shared as leaders and the common solutions we were all seeking. Before the evening ended, the general invited me to spend a day with him and his leadership team at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

During our interview, he summed up the challenge for us as individuals and organizations of all kinds. “We are all going to have to move into the future in a new context,” he told me. “For any organization, I think the next business revolution is conquering the human dimension of change. We need to bring leader development, training, and quality care for our people forward, so it matches what we have accomplished in creating more efficient, prosperous, and flatter organizations. For some time, we all have been captivated by the books on reengineering, downsizing, and restructuring, and we have done a terrific job applying what we have learned—innovating with technology, transforming organizations, and changing policies—but many of us, perhaps unintentionally, forgot about the people.”

This book is also about shaping the future, and it comes with a personal invitation to you to join me and other leaders in pioneering a new era marked by mastery of putting our differences to work. The opportunity for each of us, and all of us, is to distinguish the twenty-first century as a time where, through the strength of our differences across the world, new levels of meaningful and useful innovation are realized, transforming business and society.

This may seem a lofty goal, but isn’t that the role of leadership—to paint the picture of the future for those who follow us? By claiming this goal, we are destined to leave enduring fingerprints on the beginning of the century. Futurist Joel Barker points out what we have at stake: You can and should shape your own future, because if you don’t, someone else surely will.


HOW THIS BOOK IS ORGANIZED

Because this book combines the power of first-person storytelling, knowledge, and wisdom, past and present, with that of being an enduring practical guide with tools and resources, I want to add a few comments about its design to guide your reading.

This book is divided into three parts. Part 1, “Taking Your Leadership to a New Level,” is about the need for change, the leadership behaviors that will lead to success, and a few quick reference tools designed to support your work. It helps you look closely at not only what “putting our differences to work” means but what you already know about it, and what else you need to know as a leader. It points to why a more people-conscious leadership is important today from the perspective of prominent thought leaders and invites you to experience the evidence through the power of stories that prove it works.

Additionally, Part 1 introduces Five Distinctive Qualities of Leadership essential for putting our differences to work. Each is defined with key behaviors and actions to help you adapt and integrate them as part of your day-to-day leadership practice. This part also introduces The Basics, a set of tools and principles for success to guide your own personal journey of leadership development and renewal. You will be introduced to two helpful tools. First is the Putting Our Differences to Work: Six Steps That Make It Happen model, which shows how phases of change work together to achieve success. Second, the Organizational Snapshot is a simple online and downloadable assessment tool to test your team’s or organization’s readiness. It assists you in creating a reference point to mark where you are starting and in measuring your progress along the way.

Part 2, “Knowledge and Know-how to Guide the Way,” is designed to be an enduring reference for you to navigate your way through each phase of change in putting differences to work. This six-step model is the road map. A separate chapter is dedicated to each unique and interrelated step: Assessment, Acceptance, Action, Accountability, Achievement, and More Action. Each of these six chapters provides an overview, first-person accounts, and wisdom from luminaries, as well as illustrative examples. Periodically throughout the book and following the stories, I have summarized key points to take away as well as ideas for putting the learning into practice.

Part 3, “Ever-Expanding Possibilities,” is about moving beyond the basics and looking to the future. By invitation, Chapter 10, “Innovation at the Verge of Differences,” is written by futurist Joel Barker. He introduces new discoveries affirming the link between diversity and innovation that have been the basis for our collaborative work since 2000. In Chapter 11, “Collaboration at the Verge of Differences,” I relate our personal story of mutualistic collaboration with our respective teams and partners, sharing lessons learned. Chapter 12, “The Power of the Virtual Gathering Place,” also offers a unique opportunity to look inside the expanding possibilities for the role of social networking and other Web 2.0 technologies that are bringing us ever closer to one another in different ways. Trailblazing leaders join me to share success stories and lessons learned in this new frontier in virtual space.


THE FASTEST WAY TO BEGIN

So what’s the fastest way to begin putting our differences to work? The answer comes from a simple truth shared with me years ago.

On my first day of our new business, I asked a trusted friend and successful entrepreneur, “What’s the fastest way to begin?” “Well,” she said, looking at me straight on, “you get up in the morning and you start.” In the years since, I’ve realized the power of this simple truth over and over again in my work and my personal life. It is not only the fastest way to begin a business, but it is also the fastest way to begin a new era, to lead a new mission, to solve any problem, to change behavior, to transform an organization, or to seize any opportunity standing before you. You just begin. You may not know exactly what’s ahead, but there is only one way to find out: Go! Move. Jump. Leap. Open the door and enter. It is that first forward-thinking step that holds the promise of a new and different future, as well as the spark of innovation, the influence of leadership, the power of a new more collaborative team or community, or the passion that leads to high performance. Across the world, in big and small ways, we’re learning and relearning that when lots of individual leaders step up to take that initial bold move together, the creative possibilities multiply many times, producing results one could only describe as remarkable.

So, are you ready to get started? Come along with me as we begin taking leadership to the next level by putting our differences to work.

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Endorsements



“This book is a celebration. It's also a handbook for a revolution in leadership, relationship and creativity. It celebrates and gives guidance for a future that is happening now and is accelerating and touching, thank God, every part of life around the world. Debbe Kennedy has worked and lead at the heart of this revolution of turning the 'problem' of differences between people into the gold of creativity and innovation for organizations and the planet. She guides you with fascinating stories, poems, art, visuals, solid approaches and heuristics, and resources that will be relevant for years to come. She'll amaze you by the breadth of examples from a wide variety of walks of life, types of organizations and all corners of the globe. You'll experience in almost a visceral way the ultimate creative act of leading people with all their differences, quirks, needs, and journeys to breakthroughs in relationship, innovation and fulfillment. You'll see how technology, much of it done by Debbe in her Global Dialogue Center and working with her many clients, is changing the game of communicating, solving problems and creating opportunities. Finally, and most importantly in my mind, this is a beautiful book."

—Michael Ray,
Professor Emeritus, Stanford University Graduate School of Business,
John G. McCoy-Banc One Professor of Creativity and 
Innovation and of Marketing, Emeritus author of Creativity in Business and The Highest Goal

"The dangers of ‘groupthink’ are painfully apparent across our world. That’s why diversity, broadly understood, is so essential to innovation and progress – as Debbe Kennedy reminds us in this pragmatic and wise guide for leaders."

⎯Mike Wing, Vice President, Strategic Communications, IBM


“Rarely has there been a more relevant, more needed guidebook for leaders of the future than Putting Our Differences to Work. Debbe Kennedy has illuminated diversity, innovation, and leadership in a way that will help leaders across the sectors to redefine the future in our times of massive change.”

⎯Frances Hesselbein, Chairman and Founding President Leader to Leader Institute; Former CEO, Girl Scouts of America

"The power of Debbe Kennedy's storytelling helps us all see our own accomplishments in a new light. At the same time, the stories encourage us to take our leadership to a new level. The six steps she offers provide a roadmap to leaders and organizations on how to effectively put differences to work."

⎯Emily J. Duncan former Vice President, Culture and Diversity, Hewlett Packard Emily Duncan Consulting

"Personal, reflective, insightful and inspirational. Full of great ideas and a very powerful story that shows how we need to redefine leadership and diversity in order to help make the world a better place. Needs to be widely read – urgently!"

⎯Dr. Bruce Lloyd, Emeritus Professor of Strategic Management, London South Bank University

“Leaders must find new sources of growth more than ever today. After questioning what leadership means while reading Putting Our Differences to Work, I found myself focused on one thing: I, the leader, must first harness our people’s rich and diverse experiences, cultures and perspectives to attract growth.” Debbe Kennedy compels us to see the source of unimagined growth that is locked within the people in our organization. Unlock, innovate and win… together.”

⎯Lane A. Michel, Executive Vice President, Quaero Corporation

"We know that to create a sustainable, peaceful, and socially just world, we must change our attitudes toward relationships and the ways we conduct business. Debbe Kennedy's Putting Our Differences to Work spells this out eloquently. It blazes a trail down the path to this new paradigm, offering us guidelines, solutions, and hope. A book for this amazing time of challenges and opportunities!"

⎯John Perkin, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and The Secret History of the American Empire
"Debbe Kennedy has given us multiple gifts -- first, the gift of her deep experience with diversity work, and second, her creative gifts of presenting these ideas in a way that makes them intriguing and compelling. We have a great need for her work, because until we learn to work together in all our awesome, disturbing, and intriguing diversity, we will not be able to create organizations that can dance through these turbulent days. Thank you Debbe!"

⎯Margaret J. Wheatley, author of Finding Our Way: Leadership for an Uncertain Time and Leadership and the New Science

"Very impressive! Wonderful tools for individuals, teams and organizations. Really like the models and processes. Kennedy has a gift for getting to the heart of things and communicating insights in simple, yet powerful, ways. She has also been able to personalize the tools through stories, and through the meaningful quotations. So many tools are presented as dehumanized abstractions, but Debbe Kennedy's have color and flavor."

⎯Terence Brake, Vice President, TMA-US/London/France and author of The Global Leader


"I took a tour of Debbe Kennedy's new work one evening, and was immediately (the next day) able to utilize her tools with a client. And, I was a hero! Her package is superb and moves (even the most sophisticated) into deep dialogue. Debbe Kennedy has pulled together the best of the best. Her exercises, ideas, stories, and assessments will add significantly to any effort. She provides both insight and action for any practioner at any size company with the topic of diversity on their plate! A perfect set of interventions for the beginner or the skilled professional."

⎯Bevery Kaye, President, Career Systems International, Inc., Co-Author of Love 'Em or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay

"I half expected the book to be brilliant but definitely not phenomenal, what an amazing contribution to the debate on innovation and where it comes from...simple and at the same time impossible to achieve. I read the foreword, preface and introduction last night and I have to tell you that I am exhilirated and tingling with excitement by your concept of Putting Our Differences to Work. I am convinced you have discovered a gold mine. What a powerful, profound and compelling argument for diversity!"

-- Wendy Luhabe, Chancellor, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

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