Beyond Bulls & Bears


Dimensions & Insights: How to drive innovation and growth from everywhere

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practices drive growth and groundbreaking innovation. As business change accelerates, deploying intentional DEI actions develops diverse thinking and new ideas that can break new ground and build business resiliency. Chief Diversity Officer Regina Curry recently discussed these topics with Frans Johansson, CEO of The Medici Group, author of The Medici Effect, and entrepreneur; and Franklin Templeton Head of Digital Assets Roger Bayston. They believe diverse and intentional inclusion practices increase the capabilities of participants, communities, networks, and teams to solve ever-changing problems.

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) practices drive growth and groundbreaking innovation by integrating people’s backgrounds and unique identities. As business change accelerates, deploying intentional DEI actions develops diverse thinking and new ideas that can break new ground and build business resiliency. Recently, I discussed these topics with Frans Johansson, CEO of The Medici Group, author of The Medici Effect, and entrepreneur; and Franklin Templeton Head of Digital Assets Roger Bayston. A few highlights from our conversation:

  • DEI practices cultivate innovation by providing the best chance for creating better combinations of existing ideas or new ideas, particularly when combining far apart, unlikely, or unpredictable ideas and influences.
  • Creativity of thought will carry through the changing seasons or the technological dynamics of an industry. Diversity and intentional inclusion can expand creativity and skills that will separate humans from software and hardware engineered to solve problems.
  • Decentralized finance, digital assets, and blockchain ecosystems compel inclusivity by increasing access and equity to more investors, participants, and communities. Diverse and intentional inclusive practices increase the capabilities of participants, communities, networks, and teams to solve ever-changing problems.

As the economy grows and progresses, a creative outlet or skill that participants and workers foster may help set apart digital asset participants in their business and economic endeavors. These talents add value, can help better outcomes, boost creativity, and may help performance amongst industry disruptions. For more, please watch our conversation “How to drive innovation and growth from everywhere” and read some selected excerpts below.

REGINA: One of the things that struck me in some of our conversations prior to here is we’ve talked about how talent has changed and how it’s shifted…Our leaders—they’re very intelligent people, right? We have to have to step back and say, “Maybe we aren’t necessarily always the smartest people in the room. Let’s get some other ideas. Here we [may] have a bias…” And we have very smart folks, and let’s get some other ideas…anything about this topic, but we want to bring in something that just may be completely off-the-wall but could help us to get to another idea.

I know we’ve talked about that talent and how it can change. How has it changed the way we think about business too? Maybe we’ve had greater access and changed the way that we think about business and how we collaborate externally. And I know we talked a bit…it may have changed the way we think about what our competencies, may be as an organization or may be areas that maybe we couldn’t have gone into in the past much more quickly, whether we have talent or diversity out externally in the marketplace, from a business perspective.

FRANS: Regina, I think that when it comes to the power of expertise, there’s something very interesting that is happening right now. Because the faster the world is changing, the shorter the shelf life of any specific expertise. You may have known a lot about X, but now X has turned into Y. We see this for instance, in AI [artificial intelligence] where there’s a tremendous amount of expertise at one point, but this has been democratized dramatically through things like ChatGPT and generative AI. What is really happening is that first of all, you can sort of see a shift in the value of that expertise bending on how locked the rules of a particular system is.

I often compare this sort of expertise in a business setting with the field of sports, for instance, where we often draw many of our analogies. But the fact is that in sports, you can sort of deploy this notion of 10,000 hours for success because you know the rules. You know what you’re trained for. [For] Serena Williams, one of the most formidable tennis players ever in the world, 10,000 hours works really well. She knows exactly what she needs to do to win. She just has to do better than everybody else.

But if you’re in a world where the rules are constantly changing, then you have so many other pathways of winning. That is why Reed Hastings can start a competitor to Blockbuster without having really any experience in video rentals through Netflix, right? This is the kind of world that we’re in now. It’s just hyper-charged in doing so. And this is now put on basically a total acceleration path because almost everybody today is working very hard to make their products, their software, their platforms accessible, either through ease of use or through lower cost, or they have APIs. They can hook into other platforms. And that means that if I’m trying to solve a problem, if I can come up with a creative idea, then I don’t necessarily need to have all these expertise, tech expertise in-house, to solve it. It’s very likely that there are already developed solutions out there, or that there are people that can help me tweak something that’s in existence, and I can use that, add it to my tech stack, or add it to another solution.

What is happening is that the creativity and innovation capability of a team is increasingly valued, increasingly important. And the specific types of expertise that that has is less and less relevant. I don’t think people don’t have to be expert, but it’s the recombination of expertise that matters more. I think we’re in a sea change right now where you will see people that are able to create new opportunities, new companies, new products, and you couldn’t have seen it coming just a couple of years ago. 

ROGER: Those are great observations. This idea that the pace of technology change is actually exponential rather than linear is a really important dynamic. And one of the things that, as I’m trying to build a diverse group of communities, trying to solve problems…that creativity that is mentioned and referenced here that you’re trying to get as an organization, I actually find it super useful to, as I’m going through a process of finding new business partners, is to try to uncover where outside of the work environment they have their own creativity.

Here’s an example. There was a young woman who was an intern at Franklin Templeton who I’ve met with over [Microsoft] Teams a couple of weeks ago, and she was asking for some mentorship about her path forward. And as I was just inquiring about what her interests were, I was able to discover that she was a violinist, and her parents of course, kind of forced her into this activity when she was younger as one of those things that happened with the parent-child dynamic. But what I was encouraging her about was, as we move forward in the economy, the idea that there is a creative outlet that you have or a skill that you develop, I think, is going to be one of those things that helps set you apart as a community participant, even in the business and economic endeavors that you push forward.

Because it’s really this creativity of thought that is going to allow you to carry you through the changing seasons of an industry or the technology dynamics. It’s really going to be, I think, what will separate the human participants versus all of the software and hardware that they engineer to solve problems going forward. I really am super-attracted to people who have creativity, and you don’t have to play a violin. There was one team member who shared with me how much they enjoy building massive Lego sets with their children. And I was thinking to myself, that might feel like engineering, but quite frankly, the things that they create together, using a diverse group of shapes and colors as a tool set to create something different, is super attractive to me as a leader.

It’s not just trying to acquire specific skills and highly technical skills to bring into the workplace. It’s actually cultivating that creative side of people’s personalities and for their journey that, I think, will really help sustain them, and actually feeds into a more creative business environment to solve ever-changing problems.


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