The Potential to Transform Business 

Neurodiverse individuals bring extraordinary potential for business breakthroughs to the workplace. For radical, revolutionary, pioneering, cutting edge and trailblazing advances, look to the neurodiverse. 

From Leonardo de Vinci to Galileo Galilei, Alexander Graham Bell to Albert Einstein, Agatha Christie to Cher, Eleanor Roosevelt to Erin Brockovich, Walt Disney to Stephen Spielberg, and Whoopi Goldberg to Alyssa Milano*, neurodiverse individuals have challenged the status quo, pushed the boundaries and changed the world over and over, in all spheres of human endeavour. 

Perhaps nobody said it better than Steve Jobs (Apple CEO and Chairman, American inventor, designer and entrepreneur) when he narrated the famous Apple Think Different commercial in 1997:

Notice and Adjust

In the workplace, as in education, DFNZ sees ‘notice and adjust’ as a key strategy for supporting dyslexic and neurodiverse individuals. Businesses who understand that they undoubtedly already have many neurodiverse employees and make changes to accommodate this will get more out of these employees.

Examples of some simple changes include not forcing eye contact, not reacting negatively to fidgeting and tapping, breaking information down into bite-size chunks or (where appropriate) presenting it in visual formats, referring to key events chronologically rather than jumping backwards and forwards, and reducing noise and distractions.

Adjusting instructional or managerial techniques to put more focus on verbal interactions, picking up the phone rather than sending email, and drawing a diagram or picture to explain a page full of words are also helpful. Simple changes like these are 20% of the solution.

The other 80%, which is where the real change lies in unleashing business creativity and competitive advantage, involves positive psychology and empowerment. Engineering the workplace to enable neurodiverse individuals to bring the best version of themselves and their highest creativity and critical thinking to the table.

At a very basic level, this is the thinking behind the workplaces of many Silicon Valley and creative companies – the ubiquitous nap rooms, quiet/low sensory rooms, games tables, bean bags, ice-cream machines and so on. 

In 2020, DFNZ hosted a Neurodiversity Leadership Form to look at opportunities associated with recognising the strengths of diverse brains in the workplace, and dispel myths associated with neurodiversity. The Forum aimed to raise awareness of neurodiversity in the workplace and the benefits of different ways of thinking. These people don’t need to change, the system needs to change to make better use of what these people can offer – and that change starts in the workplace.

Responding appropriately to neurodiversity is both a need – in terms of employment rights and inclusive workplaces – and an opportunity – in channelling neurodiverse thinking to deliver increased productivity and extraordinary results. Creativity is the new business currency. Businesses are looking for the next competitive edge; this is it! 

More Resources – Workplace

DFNZ has compiled additional information for employees and employers on notice and adjust strategies for the workplace.

Click here for our downloadable booklet.