5Understanding Difference

Understanding difference is the capacity to gather and integrate comprehensive and accurate knowledge about relevant differences so that the organization can successfully leverage them. This learning process is essential, because by definition the introduction of difference is the introduction of that which is new and unknown to the organization. Focusing on difference is thus an opportunity for innovation and change, but attempts to engage and leverage differences usually don’t work if these differences are not well understood.

Consider the case of Aeolian Accounting in chapter 1. CEO Alan Jerrold had made an unsuccessful push to hire women associates in the hope of gaining more female partners over time. His leadership ...

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