A practical application of diversity and innovation

Melissa Hill Dees
2 min readNov 15, 2021
Somewhere in the Nantahala National Forest

If you’ve seen my #AmIonMute presentation, you know that diversity and inclusion is vitally important to me personally. Besides being the human thing to do, it’s also the best business decision to foster innovation. Hearing and heeding those diverse voices is the key. And, it’s not just me saying this; Frans Johannson, https://www.themedicigroup.com/, has been sharing that same sentiment since the first publication of the groundbreaking The Medici Effect. But, have you ever seen a direct and practical application of how diversity directly relates to new ideas?

I wasn’t looking for an epiphany. I was just taking some PTO with my husband and my mother to enjoy the beauty of the Appalachian mountains at the tail end of the season. We were driving to a new place each day so we stayed in hotels instead of our standard AirBnB experience. The first night, we walked into our hotel room, put away our luggage, and sat down to discuss dinner plans. My husband reached over to the AC unit under the window and pulled out the filter to inspect it. He then proceeded to take the filter, which was rather nasty, and clean and reinstall it.

Mitch Dees in a hotel in the mountains

Admittedly, I gave him a little bit of grief about it, sharing it on Twitter. Seriously, who walks into a hotel room and starts to do maintenance? But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was the perfect example of unmuting his diverse thought process. Checking the AC filter is NOT the first thought that comes to my mind when I go into the countless hotel rooms in my travels for work. I do, on the other hand, usually wind up with some sort of head cold by the time I get home. I wonder if nasty AC filters and head colds are related? Could checking the AC filter and cleaning it, if necessary, be an innovation to incorporate into my travel?

Only time will tell if this is an innovative new approach to my hotel routine. In the meantime, this tiny event has further proven that diversity comes in many forms and from many directions. Shining a light on unconscious bias, broadening and diversifying your team, and actually hearing diverse voices can create change for good! The next time someone does something you consider different or even a little bizarre, dig a little deeper. It might be the innovation you don’t want to miss.

Have you had a similar epiphany? or a practical example? I’d love to hear your experience.

Melissa Hill Dees

Partner @handsonconnect @llamasite Founder @Nonprofit Dreamin #SalesforceMVP Champion of #domoregood #WiT #EqualityForAll 9X @salesforce certified. #speaker