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The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies
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The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  260 ratings  ·  31 reviews
In this landmark book, Scott Page redefines the way we understand ourselves in relation to one another. The Difference is about how we think in groups--and how our collective wisdom exceeds the sum of its parts. Why can teams of people find better solutions than brilliant individuals working alone? And why are the best group decisions and predictions those that draw upon t ...more
Hardcover, 424 pages
Published February 1st 2007 by Princeton University Press (first published January 15th 2007)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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Marc Resnick
Aug 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Great theme, but tedious to read. Just learn these few items and skip the book:
- having a very diverse group of people involved in a project yields better performance
- the more diverse the better
- cognitive diversity is more important than demographic diversity
- different kinds of cognitive diversity include
1. different paradigms (different schema for modeling the world)
2. different values (different outcomes you are trying to maximize)
3. different processes (different approaches to putting thin
...more
Vagabond of Letters, DLitt
Mar 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dont-own
'Cognitive diversity is the diversity that matters, enhancing the creativity and efficiency of group problem solving; demographic diversity causes group incohesion, "strange results" [like physical violence --Ed.] and group dynamics that create no end of problems.'

This book tries to straddle the line between and even reconcile the two diverse diversities, a Sisyphean task other researchers (Murray, Putnam) have shown extraordinarily difficult at best, even under controlled laboratory conditions
...more
Mehrsa
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read both of Scott Page's books on diversity back to back. This one is more rigorous and academic with lots of charts and graphs, which was cool. The other one (The Diversity Bonus) is much more accessible. In this book, he uses a variety of experiments and mathematical equations to prove not just the wisdom of crowds, but the wisdom of diverse crowds. The point, which he proves in a variety of ways and with meticulous charts and definitions and frames is that groups of diverse individuals (di ...more
Mike Edwards
Nov 18, 2011 rated it liked it
The information contained within this book deserves 5 stars. Page demonstrates that diversity (by which he means diversity of background and perspective, not necessarily ethnic diversity) in group decision making is just as powerful, and in many cases even more powerful, than expertise. In other words, a diversified panel of decision makers will in many cases come up with better solutions than one containing only the best and the brightest. It's a brilliant idea.

The problem with the book, unfort
...more
Neil R. Coulter
The Difference is an often-fascinating book about why groups of diverse people may perform better than groups of technically “smarter” people at certain kinds problem-solving tasks. I found it an intriguing read even apart from looking for ways to incorporate Page's ideas into my own leadership role in a diverse environment. I do recommend it, especially to leaders, but really to anyone interested in a mind-bending look at how groups function. But it is not a perfect book, and I'll mention s ...more
Steve Warnick
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
I’ll be reading his last academic version of this next for a talk. I agree with reviewers- this is very academic and a bit tedious at times.
Jon Zelner
Jul 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
This is a good popularization of complexity theory, particularly applications to social science/policy and life in general. It can be a bit draggy in parts, but Scott does a very good job making what seem like abstract and potentially useless concepts seem quite applicable and sensible.
Jonathan
The book covers an interesting topic, suggests cool hypotheses, and provides a decent summary of the empirical evidence. I feel it struggled a little in trying to straddle the divide between academia and popular appeal.
Shelley
Jul 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Research and documentation proving what you might think would be obvious, but usually isn't--that diversity is a virtue to all of us and should be cultivated, not simply tolerated. Very readable.
Kayla
Nov 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Second half of the book very underdeveloped.
Nathan
Nov 04, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
400 pages of pseudo science to "prove" that two minds are better than one. I stopped reading this on about Page 180
InvestingByTheBooks.com
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Most equity portfolio managers will at some time come in contact with the question of gender quotas in corporate boards. Those who argue for quotas claim that these would increase the profitability of corporations. Is there any substance to this claim? As convincingly argued by Scott Page, Professor of Complex Systems, Political Science, and Economics at the University of Michigan and external faculty member of the Santa Fe Institute, the answer is yes – but perhaps not due to the factors the mo ...more
Ashley
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
The approach taken in this book is to use mathematical logic to show how and when different kinds of diversity can have a positive effect on an outcome (problem solving or prediction, mainly). I appreciated the logical approach, which is a much more robust argument for diversity than anecdotes, and can well complement a social-justice argument. On the downside, I think the book runs a little long, and could have been mode more concise with better editing. I, for one, didn't get added value by th ...more
Robert Bogue
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In America, we’re supposed to appreciate the value of diversity, but this runs in conflict to the way that we actually behave. We associate only with people who are like us. We fill our organizations with people who are like us, because we’re more comfortable that way. However, The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies encourages us to consider how diversity can create better answers than we can accomplish with a set of same-minded individual ...more
Travis Tazelaar
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book to start reading about the power of diversity and what to begin learning about how to achieve diversity's power. It's not easy but the rewards are immense.
Paul Crider
Scott Page describes in detail the circumstances in which diversity brings advantages to groups in terms of problem solving and prediction. Page argues that it is cognitive diversity that brings benefits, though this often can be expected to correlate with identity diversity. Page is refreshingly hard-nosed about data and mechanisms, and is very upfront about where diversity can be expected to set us back.

The mechanism of gains from diversity is worth spelling out in the review. Page describes c
...more
Beth
May 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Page certainly needs to be more front and center when it comes to discussing issues of diversity and inclusion. Utilizing his knowledge and experience in economics and statistics, he is able to prove that having more diversity of thought enables organizations to achieve bottom line success. He also hits the nail on the head when it comes to illustrating that the real issue with moving from diversity to true inclusion has to do with encouraging healthy conflict, proper management, and ove ...more
Kaigham
Feb 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Thought-provoking book about the power of diversity (and by diversity the author means diverse viewpoints, experiences, outlooks, approaches to solutions, ...) rather than gender/race/ethnic diversity. Clearly gender/race/ethnic diversity can, and often does, lead to diversity in approaches, but this book uses diversity more generally.

The book is a bit tortuous in its arguments because the author purposely is avoiding math beyond algebra, but it makes for a much longer book and I found myself cr
...more
James Igoe
Sep 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: systems
Generally, I found the book most engaging for understanding perception, heuristics and decision making, although this did not seem to be the primary premise of the book. As for the writing, it was a bit long-winded, using analogies to make points, even though the concepts themselves are readily accessible without elucidation.

As to its purported focus, it provides academic, empirical, and statistical support for diversity, not necessarily racial or ethnic, with the premise being that diversity of
...more
Paul Hartzog
Sep 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was working/studying with Scott when he wrote this but hadn't re-read it since the original draft chapters. I re-read it and am still amazed. Not only does Scott's wonderfully funny and animated persona shine through his writing, but he manages to deliver complex content in delightfully accessible terms.

This is a truly readable book, (and believe me SO MANY books in this genre are not)! Moreover, the topic is crucial to our collective future: diversity and difference are powerful resources, an
...more
Patrick
Oct 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Careful analysis of how diverse teams perform better at problem solving and prediction.
The added value of the book is that it gives a deeper insight in the mechanisms.
Loves how he uses fitness landscapes to explain the underlying mechanisms. Cool.
You do need to persevere as the first chapters introduces concepts that only will be used later in the book.
Aaron Terrazas
Feb 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Sometimes hackneyed, sometimes fascinating, this book is more technical than your standard "pop economics" fare, but more accessible and readable than most academic work. Overall, I'm glad I read it. The author clearly practices what he preaches, drawing from a wide range of disciplines (although mostly from social sciences, math and literature).
Adam Hecklinger
Jan 21, 2008 rated it liked it
Page's perspective of cognitive diversity is interesting and he brings a certain light heartedness to a very technical subject. The book felt to be about 100 pages longer than it needed to be though.
Sheldon
Nov 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
A little tedious in places but well worth the effort. Page illustrates the power and limitations of diversity, and provides some foundation for understanding where and why democratic processes (particularly elections) may fail to produce the expected result.
Jim
May 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
fascinating use of modeling techniques to the impact of diverse perspective and heuristics on a variety outcomes. impressively novel methodology and impressive broad perspective on what diversity means and on how diversity may effect outcomes.
Alice Korngold
Apr 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An outstanding book that demonstrates the value of engaging people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives in problem-solving. This is particularly relevant to my work in consulting with boards of directors.
Jackie G
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
I thought the subject was interesting, but I am less of a fact oriented person and more of a gut oriented person, and the book was very much oriented toward using statistics to make its points. I really appreciated the frequent injections of humor.
Anna Ravenscroft
Very good book. Provides a good framework for thinking about diversity.
Shinynickel
Apr 30, 2011 marked it as to-read
Shelves: soon
Diversity as better at rigorous problem solving than expertise.
Debra
Jul 22, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition


The info is excellent, the reading is slow and tedious - even though Mr. Page is a very funny author.
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