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The Nexus Effect: The New Science of Making a Difference

MicroPact 462 Conference – Live Blogging

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By: Bob Ragsdale

September 12, 2012 | Inside MicroPact

The last session of this year’s 462 Conference, The New Diversity and Inclusion Initiative, was presented by Bruce Stewart, Deputy Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Office of Personnel Management.  

A charismatic presenter, Stewart started his presentation blaring Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” and refused to let the audience sit back and coast during the last presentation of the day.

Focusing his presentation on how to make a difference, Stewart clearly believes in the mantra “be the change you want to see in the world.” He repeatedly stressed the point that you can’t make a difference if you don’t get out of your comfort zone.    

So, for those involved in moving forward diversity and inclusion at the federal level, what does that mean? How can EEO employees make a difference and move forward effective diversity and inclusion efforts?

For starters Stewart says, “Learn how to communicate to people in positions of leadership.” Relying on his knowledge of how the human brain works, Stewart says that when making a presentation or pitch to someone it has to first, make sense; second, make them feel something; and third it has to make them want to act

But, before you move forward, you have to realize three very important truths about the world.

Truth #1 — The world is like the weather. It changes constantly.

Truth #2 — Organizations are like high school. You have to be able to navigate the cliques, clans and tribes.

Truth #3 — People are like snowflakes. Just like snowflakes are different because of the different paths they take to the ground, people are different because of the different environments they grew up in.

Understanding these three truths, and understanding that people have a right to think differently about diversity and inclusion, Stewart moved on to discuss the five acts to follow to effectively make a difference.

Act 1: Connect

  • This is the ability to be able to connect with anyone, anytime, anywhere. In order to connect it’s necessary to overcome your conscious and unconscious biases.  

Act 2: Lead

  • By being credible and caring. You can’t lead anyone if you haven’t first connected with them and you certainly won’t get people to follow you if they don’t find you credible. Stewart points out that great leaders, who are seen as credible, often exhibit three traits: character, confidence and courage. Additionally, being caring and showing empathy is an important part of leading.

Act 3: Influence

  • Building on acts one and two, you have to connect and demonstrate leadership if you expect people to be influenced by you. For those in the EEO space, you can influence people by sharing a personal story about how diversity has affected you.  Make it personal to you using your values and then they can understand how it impacts the mission.

Act 4: Change

  • Now that you’ve completed acts one through three you can focus on change. Don’t go it alone though, use your networks (work, personal, core) and create your own Personal Action Team. Find influencers and get them on your side.  When assembling your team to help you bring about change, there are four key people you want on your team.
    • The connector. This is someone who belong to a lot of different circles within your agency; someone who is well connected
    • A maven. This is the person who has the historical knowledge of your agency
    • A salesman. Someone who has the natural ability to bring people on board
    • Sparks. Any significant change always starts with a spark. This is the person in your agency who has the courage to say what most of us won’t say. 

Act 5: Build

  • Build with the future in mind. Generate and sustain change by implementing programs that are fun, simple and default focused.

Stewart concluded his session by noting that like the butterfly effect, change doesn’t have to require big efforts. Small acts can lead to big change.

Download Bruce Stewart's Presentation on The New Diversity & Inclusion Initiative

About the Author

Bob Ragsdale is Director of Marketing at MicroPact. Bob has over 20 years of experience leading the international marketing and branding efforts of software and technology companies at nearly every stage of development.


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