Lesson 1.12

Optimizing For Cognitive Diversity

The same principle that allows a group of people to become smarter together—the idea that multiple perspectives and heuristics combine to make us better—applies in our own individual work. When we are working on solving a problem or trying to do something creative, we get smarter as individuals when we seek out different perspectives. We can think of everything we research and everyone we ask for input as part of our “team.”

The following diagram sums up the considerations for thinking through cognitive diversity in both these settings—on formal teams and in the “teams” we informally create for our own problem solving:


Remember: two heads are only better than one if they’re different. This gives us a practical reason to include different people in our work and not just work with people who are just like us.

  • You can’t make cake out of 8 kinds of flour.

  • But you also can’t make cake if you don’t mix your different ingredients. This is what Module 2 of this course will be all about: combining differences, negotiating conflict, debating smart, and the science of “cognitive friction.”

  • You still don’t have cake unless you add heat and create a chemical transformation. This is what Module 3 of this course will cover: the art and science of “intellectual humility.”

  • Creating an environment where cognitive diversity can thrive ultimately boils down to repeatedly seizing micro-opportunities to include people and reinforce that you need and want differences. We’ll discuss this at length in Module 4 of the course.

That’s the end of this module! Click Next below to proceed to review the key terms from the module and take your first assessment!