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Valuing Diversity

Peter_Honey.pngPeter Honey wrote a thought-provoking blog on the Training Journal website, where he opened by taking as read that valuing diversity is a good thing (my italics), but then he asked a really good question:



‘If we were going to start doing it at 0900 tomorrow morning, what exactly would we do?’

As usual, Peter gives a very good answer to his own question, but, also typical of him, his question really made me think.

But that was a couple of weeks ago…

The first equal opportunities employer?

The topic came back to me last night (Saturday 7 May) when I was watching a documentary about the Untold story of the Battle of Trafalgar.  It looked at the foreign sailors who fought on one of Nelson’s ships of the line, HMS Bellerophon and made the point that, for the few years of the war with Napoleon, the British Navy treated its black sailors better than Europeans had ever treated black people, and better than they were to do so for many years: it gave them total equality of opportunity.

Black and other foreign sailors were treated exactly the same as all others and promoted and respected strictly according to merit.  Perhaps that is the answer to Peter’s question.

After the war, however, it was back to colonialist business as usual, as the black sailors, who were no longer needed, were abandoned to the streets.  You can watch the video here.

Diversity Works

I have no special expertise in the subject of diversity, just the simplistic view that evidence shows that diverse teams get better results.  That’s why Peter’s question so impressed me.  So I thought it was time to read the Diversity Pocketbook.

What I found was a nice little model that can apply to many different change projects.  The author, Linbert Spencer, may forgive me for turning it into a simple picture.


How strong is it, really?

What do you mean by ‘diversity’?

A formal commitment from all the people who have real authority.

This is not an easy process.  You need to be in it for the long haul.

When you make progress, celebrate, but keep up your commitment

So Here’s the Deal

Linbert Spencer offers a structured process to answer Peter Honey’s question.  He also gives lots of practical tips to supplement Peter’s eminently sound advice.  This does matter, because in tough times like these, you can’t afford to waste any opportunity to get the best team and to get the best from your team.

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

The Diversity Pocketbook

The Cross-cultural Business Pocketbook

The Empowerment Pocketbook

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The World belongs to Unreasonable People

Kurt_Lewin‘There is nothing so practical as
a good theory’

So said psychologist Kurt Lewin, whose model of change is one of the most valuable resources that managers have [mental note – great blog topic].

But it is foolish to ‘swallow a model whole’, as Peter Honey points out in his foreword to the Management Models Pocketbook.


Instead, Dr Honey gives the following prescription:

Take a model

Distil it into techniques you can use

Test the techniques in practice

Review and refine

Keep practicing until you become skilled

That’s a pretty good model (a free extra in a book with an advertised ten models!).  Peter, by the way, has a new website and blog, and his thoughts are always worth reading.

The CECA Loop

The third and fourth steps of what I will now call the The Honey Model-users Model are about validating a model.  This is the purpose of a rather fine tool, developed by defence scientist, David Bryant: the CECA Loop.


The CECA Loop starts with two models:

  • A conceptual model of how you want the world to be
  • A situational model of how the world really is


First, evaluate the extent to which the two models are consistent with one another.  They do not have to be the same – one is clearly the world as you would like it to be.


Seek out information that will allow you to evaluate your models.


Now assess the extent to which the two models are the same or different.  When you understand the gaps, you can …


Finally you can change your world or change your behaviours or change the way you perceive your world, to move one of your models towards the other.

‘The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.‘
George Bernard Shaw
Irish dramatist & socialist (1856 – 1950)

So here’s the deal

Changing the world: how much more practical can a good theory get?

Some Management Pocketbooks you might Enjoy

The CECA Loop is Bryant’s modernisation of the OODA, which he believes is out-dated.  I believe that the two models can work well together, but let’s remember that both Bryant, and John Boyd, the developer of the OODA Loop, were both interested in the military context.

Their work has wider applications and, like Peter Honey, I believe that, as long as we properly attribute their ideas, we are free to adapt them to our own needs.

The Management Models Pocketbook has a chapter on Boyd’s OODA Loop.

You might also enjoy:

The Managing Change Pocketbook

The Creative Manager’s Pocketbook

The Learner’s Pocketbook

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