As policy issues increasingly become complex, the best outcomes result from diverse viewpoints and background, says Scott Page, professor of political science and economics.
“Diverse thoughts, experiences, beliefs and models prove critical to constructing good policy,” Page says.
He will discuss the topic during his lecture “The Experience of Innumerable Minds: Diversity in Policy Making” Jan. 27 in Annenberg Auditorium, 1120 Weill Hall, 735 S. State Street. The 4 p.m. event, which is part of the university’s 2010 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium, is free and open to the public.
Page, who directs of the Center for the Study of Complex Systems, has spent the last four years speaking to organizations, businesses and groups about the importance of diversity. Executives and leaders who implement diversity into hiring or problem-solving situations will often see the benefits from various points of view, he says.
For most organizations, the transition to a diverse environment takes time.
“It’s like a riding a bike for the first time,” Page says. “You’re not going to go fast immediately. It helps to have the right approach. Too often organizations seek to increase diversity without thinking about how to leverage that diversity to create better outcomes.”
When it involves the government, diversity is critical for good policy making for two reasons: The problems are complex, and the outcomes impact the entire country. Page points to President Obama, for example, fielding input from various sources before recently deciding to send 30,000 new combat troops to Afghanistan, a classic case of a complex situation with enormous impact.
Page’s upcoming lecture ties into his book, “The Difference,” which reveals that progress and innovation may depend less on lone thinkers with enormous IQs than on diverse people working together and capitalizing on their individuality.
“Groups that display a range of perspectives outperform groups of like-minded experts,” he says. “And properly managed diversity yields superior outcomes.”
The lecture is cosponsored by the Center for Public Policy in Diverse Societies and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.
Anna Ercoli Schnitzer, on her greatest passion: “Working to improve the physical and virtual accessibility to all of our community, regardless of individual physical or mental challenges.”