TRIBUNE PHOTO: JULES ROGERS - Kimberly Howard (left) and Sharon Donaldson, representatives of PGE, are interested in talent retention and diplomacy across generations and education levels.“We have to innovate, but the question is how do we innovate? And there is an answer: it’s diversity,” said Frans Johansson, CEO of The Medici Group and keynote speaker at The Diversity Summit 2015

The event was comprised of a day of forums hosted by PGE at the Oregon Convention Center, and drew more than 1,100 participants last Tuesday, April 7, to discuss professional diversity across ethnicity, gender, ability, generation, culture and identity. The day started with a quick coffee breakfast and a couple of tunes performed by Shine Children’s Chorus.

“Why is it this diversity gives us such an edge?” asked Johansson. “Anything that gives you a different take sets you up to drive new ideas.”

Not just new ideas, but more ideas. A diverse team, with experience across industry fields or cultures, has multiple wide fields of ideas to pull from. The more ideas generated total, the higher the number of good ideas.

“All new ideas are really combinations of old ideas,” said Johansson. “This is why diversity is so powerful.”

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JULES ROGERS - Kimberly Howard (left) and Sharon Donaldson, representatives of PGE, are interested in talent retention and diplomacy across generations and education levels.Seminar-goer Drea Dixon, finance and HR manager at nonprofit Pathfinders for Oregon, said her favorite part of Johansson’s message was “the way he pulled different ideas together.” Dixon planned to attend diversity and inclusion strategist Miguel Valenciano’s breakout session on the topic of “Addressing the Invisible Scars of Microaggressions.”

Of the 10 breakout sessions recurring throughout the day, topics included Leading Diversity and Inclusion Initiative in Our Organization by Steve Hanamura, president of Hanamura Consulting; Developing Intercultural Competence by Dr. Janet Bennet, executive director of the Intercultural Communication Institute along Southwest Canyon Lane; and Building an ROI-focused Diversity Scorecard: A Strategic Six-Stage Model by Dr. Edward Hubbard, CEO of Hubbard and Hubbard, Inc.

“We are not good at predicting what will work,” said Johansson, humorously noting Angry Birds is Rovio Entertainment Ltd’s 52nd game and Einstein wrote papers that were never referenced. “People who change the world try for more ideas. Diverse teams simply come up with far more ideas.”

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JULES ROGERS - PGEs Diversity Summit 2015 drew more than 1,100 participants from around the region, extending to Vancouver.Driven by an interest in collaboration across generations and education levels, Sharon Donaldson, event attendee, is a representative of PGE.

“We are very interested in the retention of talent and culture,” said Donaldson. “As we retire, they bring in new young brights with degrees and educations, and I remember me coming in with a GED and some high school education.”

Donaldson decided to attend breakout session by Lillian Tsai, founder of TsaiComms, on the topic of Creating an Inclusive Environment and Strategy for Retention and Talent Management.

Tracy Bean, partner at Mercer, Pacific Northwest Talent, spoke on “Gender Diversity — When Women Thrive” Deena Pierott, CEO of Mosaic Blueprint, spoke on “Inclusive Digital Leadership for Diversity” Carol French and April Lewis, founders of Figure 8 Consulting, gave a seminar titled “Inter-Professional Conflict: Cultural Agility — The Antidote.”

“Ability to make divergent connections decreases as we get older,” said Johansson. “At the intersection (of cultures and industries), we come up with more ideas. Take your insights, connect it with another culture, figure out something nobody else has.”

JULES ROGERS - David Trimble of TrimetAs for conceptualizing ideas with new perspective, David Trimble, director of transportation at TriMet, is thinking about the event’s methodology through a hiring lens.

“It’s something we already take an active role in as an agency,” said Trimble. “My interest is to hear innovative ideas and (how to) incorporate that use in life and profession.”

“How can we change patterns of behavior? Avoid looking for solutions in obvious places. Diversity keeps you out of that trap,” says Johansson, explaining his methodology. “Define the smallest idea, smallest executable step to get going. Diverse teams are able to do that better, able to leverage lots of people.”

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JULES ROGERS - Frans Johansson, CEO of The Medici Group, authored The Click Moment and The Medici Effect, which was named in the Best Books on Innovation by BusinessWeek.

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