I first came across SDI many years ago when working for a Pharmaceutical company in the UK. We had a team building session for all of us in the HR team and the person brought in to do this used the SDI as a tool to help us understand and explore our differences and create common understanding. I was immediately inspired to learn more about this powerful tool and how I could use it further, and so soon after, I gained my SDI Certification.
After this I began training people in the company to understand these basic differences in our values, helping them to understand each other better and work together more easily. It was always a great experience for everyone. They learned a lot, enjoyed themselves and saw benefits in the quality of their relationships as well as reduced conflicts, better influencing ability and much more.
Once I moved to Slovenia and Joined DHL I asked the UK Company who trained me in SDI to come and certify our regional HR team and so we began to share the benefits of SDI across countries, languages and cultures where it was always received positively and improved difficult relationships.
Soon after I began Fast Forward I co-operated with the US owners of SDI to be able to certify others to work with the SDI and so our ability to spread the benefits of SDI grew again.
But then I had one experience that made me start to see the power that SDI has on a much larger scale. I was asked by one company to support a project team that was having cultural difficulties, with part of the team in Slovenia and part in Austria. They were having a lot of conflicts and misunderstandings and the teams in each country both felt it was the other's fault.
The original intention was to help them understand and explore their cultural differences in a way that would enable them to work more smoothly together. I used SDI with the team as a base to help them to see how even within the same culture we are different.
And something amazing happened.
As they explored their individual values and learned how to respect those differences it created a common language across cultures. Soon they recognised people who thought and worked as they did despite cultural differences. They saw these kind of differences as valuable to the team, learned that diversity, in its many ways, is of value and difference is something to be valued and appreciated, not something to judge, be afraid of, or frustrated by. Of course it doesn't mean it's always easy, but once we understand diversity and know how to find common ground, we can do this in many different contexts.
"As they explored their individual values and learned how to respect those differences it created a common language across cultures."
In our world today we have many forms of diversity and SDI has the power to open up dialogue. Dialogue is essential if we're to connect with our near and far neighbours and create a world where diversity is seen as a strength.
Some of us are open to this, some of us are afraid of this or have been brought up to believe there is one right way which creates more judgement and limits the benefits of diversity.
Using SDI as a tool for understanding diversity on the individual level can create a mindset that starts to focus on:
- Increased self-awareness and the impact we have on others, for better or worse
- Deeper understand of others - why are they the way they are, what's important to them
- Being 'right' becomes less important. There is only right for me. Your right can be quite different. I don't have to agree or do things your way, but I can understand and allow and enable you to be you and work at finding common ground, mutual understanding and respect
- Once we have this we learn how to communicate in a respectful way. Ask questions to understand, gain answers that challenge our thinking and communicate in a constructive way
- This is how we become inclusive and diversity becomes a real strength. Together we are more and can achieve things that we could never have done alone. We learn, which makes each of us stronger, we can communicate in a more respectful way which makes most things possible. Again, our world today so badly needs this.
These things for sure help us with our work colleagues, our life partners, our extended families and neighbours. But the real power is how to apply this mind set to diversity of all kinds. With this we have the power individually and together to make the world a better place.
Join us in this mission!