Quantify and leverage for the common good the extra creativity that comes both from the Neurodiverse individual and from the surrounding team.
We have a hypothesis based on our initial research that the extra innovation comes not only from the extra creativity of a neurodivergent but also from the extra work and perspectives that surrounding team members can have based on the neurodivergent novel thought patterns. We sought to investigate the following question:
How do we channel neurodivergent extra creativity capacity to produce innovation both from the individual and the surrounding team?
What started as a question has turned into a movement, The NDGiFTS Movement.
NeuroDiversity Giving individuals Full Team Success.
Significant Opportunity –
Untapped Talent for Creativity & Innovation at a time when society needs this the most
There is a considerable opportunity to utilize a currently untapped talent pool. Neurodiversity includes over 20% of the human populations and is a cognitive diversity associated with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and dysgraphia. The unemployment or underemployment rate in this group is high. This translates to a non-visible talent pool that leading companies are now beginning to identify and target in their global recruitment efforts.
We believe that there is a vast unaddressed opportunity for innovation that is represented by most Neurodiverse people who do not get to use their creative abilities – just when we need them the most.
Organizational DEI Infrastructures: Now is the time to include Neurodiversity
Currently, most organizations adopt a diversity model that emphasizes ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity – and rightly so…. however, we believe the time has come to include the next population…..the Neurodiverse. It is time for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) to include cognitive diversity.
Many neurodiverse individuals have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to enhance organizational processes and address unsolved challenges. Workplace and societal challenges are overlooked opportunities impacting neurodivergent individuals. It is essential to take into consideration the areas below when discussing how neurodiversity equity and inclusion should be encouraged and supported not only in the workplace but across multiple environments and demographics. The neurodivergent individual, when appropriately supported and embraced, brings cultural and economic advantages to all societal organizations in the workplace, including creativity, innovation, entrepreneurial energy, and predictable impacts.
To continue advancing workplaces, team processes, and synergies, we believe organizations would benefit from cognitive diversity. Innovation will come from having a group of "creative" thinkers that are diverse in mindset and experiences. There is a huge unaddressed market opportunity benefit of organizations adopting a Neurodiversity Strategy and enabling a team environment that leverages the extra creative capabilities of the Neurodiverse person(s) in the group.
Including Neurodiversity in DEI: The data challenge
Based on NDGiFTS exploratory research and conversations, society must view Neurodiversity as diversity and include in DE&I organizational structure. Our team believes that the strengths-based approach of the Stanford Neurodiversity Project (SNJ) promotes the flourishing of the human person and the extra creativity of the individual.
There is a lack of reliable data, which is a challenge to measure the accountability of the implementation of Neurodiversity within organizations. The current statistics available, we feel, are not reflective of those that go undiagnosed or undisclosed.
BHAG for both Organizations & Society
Jim Collins and Jerry Porras discuss how highly successful visionary organizations use bold visions through "Big Hairy Audacious Goals" or BHAG. Our research has highlighted that Neurodiversity has the potential to be a Huge "Big Hairy Audacious Goal" for both organizations and society. We believe this can happen by creating team processes that allow individuals to take their creative potential and translate it into innovative products and services.
Neurodivergent offers a unique perspective, and cognitive diversity results in thinking differently. We seek to identify the missed creativity that will be uncovered through creating an environment to support creative potentials leading to more innovation within organizations. Autistics, for example, have cognitive skills that lead to novel approaches resulting from their exceptional memory, meticulously accurate representation, or rule-following (Roth, 2020). Our initial research suggests that unleashing the untapped creativity and innovation of Neurodiverse people will create spillover effects of innovation within organizations, the global economy, and society.
Neurodiversity will also bring awareness that all Human Beings must be enabled to flourish and fulfill their Human potential for life to be meaningful for all society. Better inclusion of Neurodiversity will lead to solutions for solving society's complex, inter-disciplinary problems through the disruptive, "out-of-the-box thinking" that is so-missing in today's attempts to address these issues. To have a genuinely inclusive society, the Neurodiverse must be included.
The NDGiFTS Movement Report
The final deliverable of our NDGiFTS Movement is a comprehensive report on the state of Neurodiversity addressing the question, How do we channel neurodivergent extra creativity capacity to produce innovation both from the individual and the surrounding team? We know that the path from creative potential to innovation requires climate, leadership, and team processes that harness individuals and allow them to thrive.
Within our report, we propose two research studies for funding by large enterprises that will provide evidence that neurodivergent have access to a higher portion of creativity. Expanding upon this evidence, we will run training groups to learn and inform practice on new team processes that unleash this potential and the ripple effects of creativity from others. We are already in discussions with Bank of America and Amazon's neurodiversity teams as potential funding sources and sites for this critical research.
We, NDGiFTS movement, have the confirmed support for this research of over 100 individuals globally, and we plan on using this active community as resources for implementation. Our team is cognitively diverse because we believe that we must practice what we preach. The depth and breadth of our collective experiences and expertise, in many cases, is based on the lived experiences of themselves or families that are Neurodivergent.
Our NDGiFTS Social Movement Plans for Media & Communications
We are developing a holistic media strategy to communicate and amplify our work. Even in the age of social media sharing, our team believes that it is imperative to have good media relationships and a PR strategy. NDGifts will develop a PR campaign targeting relevant reporters and news outlets covering education, human resources, management, career development and leadership to share our findings and recommendations.
Storytelling that touches any aspect of our work will then become material for all stakeholders to amplify to their various networks and channels across Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, and others. In fact, our plans for pilot with a leading technology corporation include storytelling as a tool for scaling worldwide. For a continuously unfolding story that will likely accelerate as our report becomes public, the variety of angles is virtually endless, not a “one and done”. Ongoing media amplification that NDGiFTS guides and directs is a powerful tool for advancing our goals.
For too long, our model of what good looks like has been boxed into narrow definitions of how people think: what a typical approach is and what typical thinking patterns are. We should be thinking of our students, our colleagues, and collaborators not in terms of how they FIT IN but rather what they ADD.
We can all see and feel, intuitively, as humans that the power of our humanity is that we are all individuals who are unique. This is one thing which we have in common. Why then are we looking for things which are so standardized in our organizations?
We, as a society, need to move from a fixed notion, a sense of what fits to embracing the potential of a million unique ways of thinking. It is time to open our hearts and minds to the power of our collective uniqueness, our collective humanity.
Written by Ronan McGovern, Tiffany Jameson and Susan O’Malley on behalf of the NDGiFTS team. We would like to thank Karen Wickre and Peter Shea for contributing to the executive summary.