I enjoy a variety of podcasts, and recently have been listing to an NPR podcast called Planet Money. The folks at Planet Money do a great job of explaining complex global money issues in an understandable manner.
In a recent podcast they explained the inefficiency of gift-giving, and how at least one economist sees the Christmas holiday as an example of value loss. Imagine you receive a small kitchen appliance that you never use, and put on a shelf somewhere to be forgotten until you move or do a major household purge. The materials and effort taken to manufacture that device have returned no value. Resources were converted, people’s time was spent in designing and creating the device, but it has returned nothing.
In the podcast, they went to a classroom and gave children there a random treat: candy bars, fig newtons, chocolate, raisins and similar items. They asked each child to give a value on a 1-10 scale for the item they received. The person who got raisins didn’t like them, so gave them a zero. Out of a possible score of 100, the “value” of the gifts was 50.
The children immediately got that if they considered trades, the value would increase. They realized that they each valued things differently, and that by exploring others’ values they might be able to trade up. After a minute or so of trading, they reassessed and the value in the room increased.
This had absolutely nothing to do with gender or race or many of the other traits that people think about when they consider diversity. It had everything to do with personal experience and value. When modern managers understand the diverse personal experience and values can lead to greater value creation, we will then move from “common sense” to “diverse sense”.