Research shows that most of the organizations have few common issues which inhibit the advancement of diverse groups in the workplace : (1) negative attitudes and discomfort toward people who are different, (2) discrimination, (3) prejudice, (4) stereotyping, (5) racism, and (6) bias.
In one of the HBR series discussions, Navi Radjou, VP at Forrester Research shares his insight on why Indians score over their western counterparts.
He asked senior execs at both Western and Indian multinationals with R&D operations across US, Europe, and India what challenges they face in managing their firms’ transnational innovation networks. They pointed out that the biggest hurdle is socio-cultural, as Indian engineers think and act completely differently than their Western colleagues. The former, growing up in a red-hot economy, are animated by a “growth mindset” whereas the latter, operating in mature economies, are stuck in a “settled mindset.” These two opposite approaches clash when they are asked to collaborate on a R&D project. Why? Because Indian and Western engineers completely differ in their:
1) Reasoning. Unlike Western engineers,who reason with a predicate logic (a statement is either true (1) or false (0),Indian engineers solve problems using a fuzzy logic,the degree of truth of a statement can range anywhere between 0 and 1.
2) Problem-solving. Given their average age (mid-20s), Indian engineers belong to the Generation Y, or the Millennials, who learn through hands-on experiments (think video-games) and peer-to-peer interactions (instant messaging anyone?). When solving a problem, these grown-up “kids” harness the multiplicative power of social networking tools to experiment with multiple solutions simultaneously, and select the optimal one based on peer input. You can call this problem-solving approach “Collaborative Darwinism.” By contrast, Western engineers, many in their 30s/40s/50s, theoretically weigh the pros and cons of every single solution before even trying it, and feel too proud to ask for help when stuck solving a problem. It’s the “ostrich-style” problem-solving.
3) Market expectations. It’s hard for Western engineers living in rich economies with advanced infrastructure to design products for use by customers in developing economies with poor roads and unreliable electrical and water supply. But that’s second nature for Indian engineers in Bangalore, with its ever-congested roads and frequent power cuts. As a US tech multinational’s exec eloquently puts it: “Western engineers’ product ideas are shaped by laws of abundance whereas Eastern engineers’ inventions are motivated by the rules of scarcity.