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Diverse perspectives are a powerful tool for maximizing productivity and enhancing collective performance. Believe it or not, you can even be “diverse” all by yourself. You can, to quote Walt Whitman, “contain multitudes.”
The Hidden Factor: Why Thinking Differently Is Your Greatest Asset is your opportunity to learn the strategies that make you a more diverse thinker and position you to break down institutional silos and build robust, effective teams. Delivered by Professor Scott E. Page of the University of Michigan—a pioneering researcher in his field—these 24 thought-provoking lectures are packed with case studies, cautionary tales, and formal mathematical methods that prove the case for cognitive difference.
Whether you’re in a leadership position or striving to advance your career, Professor Page’s techniques will train you to
By teaching you to “see around the bend” and analyze decisions from multiple perspectives, The Hidden Factor even has practical benefits beyond the workplace. From determining which house to buy to where to invest your money, life requires making smart predictions at every turn.
At the outset of the course, Professor Page acknowledges the elephant in the room: that diversity is a politically charged term. Although there is a strong correlation between identity diversity (differences in cultural backgrounds) and cognitive diversity (differences in how people think), the professor makes it clear that the focus of this course is cognitive diversity and how we can leverage it to solve complex problems.
In The Hidden Factor, you’ll learn diversity creates a significant advantage on multiple levels:
Of particular use to those in management or hiring positions, The Hidden Factor demonstrates how variety in staffing engenders organizational strength. Typically, candidates are evaluated in a linear fashion on the basis of how a certain skill applies to a certain task. However, new hires bring along “toolboxes” filled with unique perspectives that current employees may not offer.
To illustrate this key tenet of the course, Professor Page uses a number of eye-opening examples and mental exercises. One such scenario highlights the tests that companies like Microsoft and Google administer to job applicants. Talent-based logic implies only those with the highest scores should be hired. Diversity-based logic says otherwise.
Say you have three applicants for two positions on a team. Each is asked 10 questions, and the scores are as follows:
Candidate A: 7
Candidate B: 8
Candidate C: 8
Following talent logic, you should add candidates B and C to the team. But diversity logic suggests that you look at the distribution of questions answered correctly in addition to the scores.
Applicants B and C each get 1 through 8 correct but cannot solve question 9 or 10. Applicant A misses 1 through 3, but correctly answers 4 through 10. Diversity-based logic tells you that the team will do better if it contains cognitively diverse people, so you should hire person A and either B or C.
Throughout the course, formal mathematical models nail down the logic behind the professor’s conclusions. While the theorems and formulas are important for understanding the conditions necessary for a proposition, a love of numbers is not required to master the concepts. As Professor Page walks you through the math, you’ll arrive at some astounding realizations—such as the fact that diversity and ability are of equal value in producing collective wisdom. Also, a diverse crowd will always be more accurate than its average member.
You’ll also see the central role forecasting plays in organizations and even in your daily life. Not only is it important for nuts and bolts operational issues, it enables more effective design of products and policies. In order to give people what they want, you must know what they want, and that involves forecasting.
You’ll learn many heuristics, or tools, for making smart predictions:
While the models presented are not “all-knowing oracles,” they do provide strong foundations from which to launch the decision-making process.
In a rapidly changing world, it’s imperative to stay agile by possessing a diverse set of tools. Institutional practices that may have worked well in previous years may cease to perform as the landscape changes. The Hidden Factor recounts numerous noteworthy examples of large-scale failure and collapse, a common cause of which is groupthink. From the U.S. housing market crash to the fall of entire civilizations, you’ll take an in-depth look at reasons this phenomenon occurs and strategies to avoid it.
As a leading expert on complexity and diversity, Professor Page offers his original research alongside that of other noted practitioners to put you on the cutting edge of this field. His engaging, often humorous teaching style leaves no doubt why he is a sought-after lecturer at top universities, businesses, and nonprofit organizations.
All 24 lectures are filled with a colorful array of down-to-earth analogies and examples that illuminate the intriguing, perception-shifting concepts at the core of this ambitious course. Professor Page also provides concrete, factual logic undergirding this hidden factor of success. Charts, graphs, and other images clarify the data, while math equations make the lessons easy to follow.
The Hidden Factor clearly demonstrates that the problems facing society will grow ever more complex as the low-hanging fruit all but disappears. Leveraging diversity isn’t as simple as counting up the number of types and saying more is better; it requires the proper connections and interactions between those diverse parts. Stay competitive by training your mind to think differently with this invaluable course.
Dr. Scott E. Page is Leonid Hurwicz Collegiate Professor of Political Science, Complex Systems, and Economics at the University of Michigan, where he has taught since 2000. The holder of a master's degree in Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin and a Ph.D. in Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences from Northwestern University, Professor Page has also been Professor of Economics at the California Institute of Technology and at the University of Iowa. For the past 15 years, he has maintained an active involvement with the Santa Fe Institute-the interdisciplinary think tank recognized as the nerve center of research into complexity theory-where he is an external faculty member. His many honors as both scholar and educator include teaching awards earned at Cal Tech, Northwestern, and Michigan. The author of The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies and the coauthor of Complex Adaptive Systems: An Introduction to Computational Models of Social Life, Professor Page has also lectured, consulted, and published across a diverse range of disciplines, including economics, political science, ecology, physics, management, public health, and computer science.