Is Cognitive Diversity the Answer to Creating Highly Effective Teams?

Diversity and Inclusion have become hot topics of late and rightly so. Organisations see the value in teams made up of people with diverse thinking styles and behavioural preferences. At The Grey Matters Network, we emphasise the value of the mature team member and the diverse thinking and behaviours that evolve in us over time.


Research tells us that teams make better decisions than individuals, on average teams outperform individuals 66% of the time (Forbes research 2017). However, if that team is made up of all one gender you can expect better decisions 58% of the time when compared to an individual. Decision-making improves as team diversity increases.  There are lots more numbers and evidence that support this idea. 


  • You can get to 73% additional performance by making your team gender diverse.  

  • When you add diverse age groups to the team mix, we get to 80%. You can improve further through geographical diversity.

  • Decisions made and executed by diverse teams also delivered 60% better results.


Of course, it is all due to diverse voices providing more perspectives.


This gets us thinking, what if we could build the optimal team, what people ‘ingredients’ would you need to produce the best possible outcome? Is it just a matter of mixing genders, age groups and geography? Of course, it’s not quite as simple as that, you still have other group dynamics and cultures to consider.


This brings us to Cognitive Diversity at the individual and team level and how that might be applied.


In my own personal search to understand this better, I sought out a means of understanding how we might gain a better understanding of how people are made up and what the implications are when interacting with others. I wanted to know that this was based on neuroscience but without the highbrow language that often comes with that territory. I had already experienced multiple psychometric tools and they all have their merits however none answered all the ‘So What’ questions for me and quite frankly many had language that made them hard to relate to.


So through my detailed research, I arrived at Emergenetics and recently trained as a Consultant in the application of this effective tool. I have found Emergenetics to be intuitive and easy to understand which is important when applied in organisations. It helps you understand your own hard-wiring and therefore preferred thinking style and the implications for you and others of your cognitive mix.


Furthermore, it gives you a view of your behavioural preferences, how people see you ‘turn-up’ and how you will tend to see and interact with others. Of course, there is no perfect mix as we know from research, we can, however, get closer to being a highly effective team through Cognitive Diversity.


If you are interested in knowing more about this subject and how it might work for you and/or your organisation, please contact me directly – 


Tony Devine is a Managing Partner of The Grey Matters Network and a Certified Emergenetics Consultant.