At the Nexus of Inclusion and Innovation
Believing that diversity fosters innovation and strengthens our skills, at Otak, we’re working to build a culture of equity and inclusion. Our professionals come from diverse backgrounds, and we regularly collaborate across the disciplines of planning, architecture, landscape architecture, civil engineering, structural engineering, project and construction management, natural resource sciences, and other areas of expertise. This interdisciplinary dynamic embraces equity, inclusion, and valuing each other’s unique perspectives. We continue to explore how to foster this aspect of our culture even more and to a greater level of depth throughout all our offices and teams.
In October, Otak leadership participated in a workshop, hosted by the Medici Group of New York, to learn more about how diversity can directly contribute to innovative ideas and our success in business.
Our thought leaders from Medici, Sharang Biswas and Juliana Echeverri, facilitated interesting discussions and group exercises, helping us experience first-hand the magic that can happen when diversity and inclusion overlap with innovation and strategy as shown in their signature approach graphic to the right.
Participants broke into five small teams organized to include people of diverse disciplines, backgrounds, interests, ages, genders, geographic locations, and technical expertise. Each person shared information about themselves in short phrases and key words, writing on a large piece of paper in the form of a mind map. Then team members asked each other questions to gain a better understanding of each person’s story. The next step got participants’ ideas flowing—each team was asked to randomly pick two items on the mind map and come up with a new business-related idea or concept. The last step was to repeat the same exercise, but to brainstorm new ideas that were specific to a strategic goal of the company.
The Medici Group, founded by Frans Johansson, author of The Medici Effect (Harvard Business Press), a foundational book on innovation, and The Click Moment (Penguin Portfolio), helps companies activate diversity into an innovative edge by breaking down silos and leveraging diverse talents. Just as the Medici family catalyzed the Renaissance by bringing together people from different disciplines, cultures, and backgrounds, the Medici Group inspires the Renaissance of today.
Who were the Medicis?
The Medicis gained prominence in Italy in the early 15th century as wool merchants and bankers whose businesses were extremely profitable. They were leaders in business, politics, religion (three popes were Medicis), and the arts. Together with other prominent families, the Medicis inspired the Renaissance by funding creators from a wide range of disciplines—scientists, sculptors, poets, philosophers, financiers, painters, architects, and others, who converged on the city of Florence, where they learned from one another, broke down barriers, and forged a new world based on new ideas.