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A quick overview of the thinking behind the Include Approach

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Five schools of thinking, while independent from each other in science, have been brought together to form the Include™ Approach to creating an inclusive organization, namely; (i) systems thinking, (ii) organizational behavior, (iii) organizational change management, (iv) choice architecture, and (v) business and data analysis. You can find plenty of literature online about each of these five areas should you wish to delve into them in detail, so I will simply provide for you here a general definition in the context of developing the Include™ Approach to inclusion.

Systems Thinking

Systems thinking is the capability to identify and understand systems, determine their interactive relationships, predict their behaviors, and devise adjustments or interventions to produce desired effects or outcomes. Rather than seeing only specific events in the system, this broad view can help you to quickly identify the real causes of issues in organizations and know just where to work to address them. By focusing on the entire system, you can attempt to identify solutions that address as many problems as possible in the system at a single time – rather than one at a time in isolation. The positive effect of those solutions leverages improvement throughout the entire system. Chaos theory is an evolution of systems theory. Chaos refers to the dynamics of a system that has no, or little, order, but there is an underlying order. In these systems, small changes can cause complex changes in the overall system. (In technical terms, chaos theory applies to complex nonlinear dynamics systems.) 

The Include™ Approach looks at the whole system of the organization and the interconnected cause and effect of the way the organization operates. In this context, we consider everything from the organization's strategy, through work practices and processes, to behaviors and actions in all lines of business operations and support functions as critical interdependent elements in creating an inclusive organization. 


Organizational Behaviour

Organizational behavior draws from a range of disciplines, like psychology, sociology, economics, and political science, to create a unique field to seek to understand how individuals and groups act within the organizations in which they work. There are three key levels of analysis in organizational behavior which examine; the individual, the group, and the organization. 

For example, if I want to understand a leader's decision-making, I would be examining the individual level of analysis. If I wanted to know how that leader's decision-making affects their team, I am examining things at the team level. But, if I want to understand how the organization's culture affects the leader's decision-making, I would be interested in the organizational level of analysis.

The Include™ Approach recognizes and applies methods that seek to influence the way individuals, groups, and organizations are inclusive in their ways of working. In the context of organizational behavior, we have also analyzed these three levels in determining the empirical levers for driving inclusion.


Organizational Change Management

Organizations need an integrated approach to drive systematic, constructive change, minimize the destructive barriers to change, and address the change's consequences. Researchers and professionals propose many different change methodologies, generally borrowing principles and tools from sociology, leadership, enterprise management, and strategic change theories. Since change affects all organizational aspects, including strategy, internal structure, processes, people's jobs, and attitudes, and overall culture, organizations need to realize that change is, more often than not, a complex exercise.

The principles of organizational change management are fundamental to the success of creating business-as-usual inclusion in your organization. This includes how you plan, communicate, govern, lead, engage, and reinforce the implementation of inclusive working methods. The Include™ Approach applies organizational change management principles and methods to transform the way your organization operates so that it is a place where diversity thrives, and your business does too. 


Choice Architecture

Social scientists broadly recognize that humans tend to simplify problems and seek mental shortcuts to solve them when making decisions—in essence, attempting to be as efficient as possible. However, the problem with that is that it often ends up compromising the accuracy of the outcome. It's simply our way of navigating the complexities of daily life reasonably well without being struck by paralysis. Still, the shortcuts on which this relies invariably will sometimes lead to suboptimal decisions. Since we know how the human brain makes decisions, we can implement choice architectures that guide decision-making. The term Choice Architecture was first coined by Thaler and Sunstein (2008), referring to the practice of influencing choice by organizing the context in which people make decisions. A frequently mentioned example is how food is displayed in buffets, where offering healthy food at the beginning of the line or at eye level can contribute to healthier choices. 

There are many ways to present choice options to targeted individuals, and the particular presentation of those choices can significantly impact what people decide. The Include™ Approach applies techniques that influence inclusive capability development, thinking snd decision making removes (as much as possible) bias and the option to exclude. 


Business and Data Analytics

Measuring inclusion outcomes can contribute to success if the measurement systems blend the objective with the subjective, quantitative with quantitative, intuitive with explicit, hard with soft, and lead and lag. The proper measures will provide you with insights into why the 'system' performs the way it does, where it can be improved, and where it is on track or off track. So while terms like; decision support systems, expert systems, business intelligence, data and text mining, big data, and deep learning have been used to refer to specific techniques, and new technologies have emerged, they all share the same underlying purpose: employing internal or external, structured or unstructured data for actionable insights. In the Include™ Approach, we use business and data analytics to refer to the use of data for better decision-making. By doing so, we can focus on the complex relationships and patterns present in the data, rather than hypothesizing or simply guessing.

Organizations most commonly use lagging indicators to measure diversity and inclusion, such as measuring outcomes (e.g., female representation in senior leadership roles). While these lag indicators are utilized in the Include™ Approach, we place a much more significant emphasis on the role of lead indicators that provide information for use in anticipating and developing an inclusive organization (e.g., female representation in job applications to an advertised role). These leading indicators should identify organizational practices and processes that track changes in the demonstration of inclusion in the organization. This will, in turn, enable you to respond to changing circumstances and take action to achieve desired outcomes or avoid unwanted outcomes.


Take a deeper dive into the measurement of diversity, inclusion, and belonging by checking out our blog post (insert title name here).

To learn how to hack an inclusive culture change within your organization, check out our blog How to hack inclusive culture change.


About the Author

Dr Liz is the CEO and Co-founder of Include, a behavioural scientist and organisational transformation expert with a career focus on assisting businesses, teams and individuals to be the best they can be. Now known as ‘The Inclusionist’, Dr Liz is on a mission to create a world where everyone is included. Her innovative, yet pragmatic Include™ approach is creating a global movement of change through the organisations, governments, and institutions we all interact with daily.

Connect with Dr Liz on LinkedIn


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