Leveraging the Differences: A Recipe for Innovation and Change

Last week we profiled the keynote that Greg Creed, the CEO of Yum! Brands provided to the executive community in The Great Conversation in Security. As you remember, he talked about the power of culture and the necessity to create a self-correcting culture focused on the vision, mission and goals of the organization. Engagement is key. If fosters trust.

Understanding what you are engaged to do is critical. The “Why” of your work. To Greg, that means you need to be RED. Relevant, Easy and Distinctive. To the degree he can create a culture that is continuously moving in that direction, he believes they can be successful. Every security executive was asking themselves, how they could bring RED into their program.

We were also privileged to listen to a cross functional industry panel discussing the strategic imperative of of diversity. We brought members of Greg’s team together that came from different backgrounds and departments to understand how they defined diversity, leveraged it, and are creating a force multiplier in value generation as a result.


The executives included the following:

James Fripp
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer
Yum! Brands, Inc.

Erika Burkhardt
Vice President of Brand Protection
Pizza Hut LLC

Steven Antoine
Global Assets Protection Director
Yum! Brands, Inc.

We also included a medical doctor, Dr Robert Genzel, who had become the Chief Security Officer for Texas Motor Speedway, proving to all of us, that intelligent minds can absorb critical risk indicators and use their skills to create a strategy and a plan. Dr. Genzel is now providing services to the security community as CEO of Overwatch, a company dedicated to providing Medical, EMS, Fire and Security support services to Corporations, High Net-worth individuals and governmental agencies around the world. Through this experience he has become a sought-after speaker and consultant on Emergency Preparedness and Mass Casualty preparation and response for corporate campuses and large spectator venues. That would not have happened without a recognition that another perspective could be a game-changer.

The discussion was poignant. We walked away with a number of nuggets of wisdom that we believe can add to our leadership and our value.

  1. Diversity is the foundation of ideation and innovation. By intentionally identifying, including and listening to people from different experiences, cultural backgrounds, and racial or gender identities, we have the opportunity to expand our imagination and sharpen our ideas.

  2. Diversity demands empathy and care. If fostered, it strengthens the ties that bind us to one another.

  3. Diversity opens our eyes. It is the enemy of scotomas; the dysfunctional blindness of ignorance.

  4. Diversity leverages the differences in us. It does not fight them or critique them. It seeks to understand them.

So, as we left the conversation, each of us were thinking who is on my team and, more importantly, who is not. And what can I do about it?