Civic character

Practices | Engage multiple and diverse perspectives

1. Highlights

In Principled Innovation, we seek to ensure that a full range of relevant voices and community members are part of the innovation process. While it can be attractive for the sake of time and ease to make decisions alone or with a small group of like-minded people, involving different and even conflicting perspectives can lead to more equitable, successful and sustainable outcomes in the long run.

Actively seek out a range of voices and perspectives to include

Ensure that people can express conflicting views by creating inclusive settings

Create innovative solutions that reflect community needs and enjoy broad support

This practice asks us to not only invite people with a range of perspectives into the process, but to actively and intentionally engage and include them, drawing on the civic character assets of perspective taking, inclusivity and civility to do so. This means we must work to understand the experiences and beliefs of others and create inclusive structures and settings that welcome people to participate and express their opinions. It also means using civility to include those who disagree with us or one another, not shying away from conflict but maintaining a civil discourse so that multiple perspectives can be heard.

When we build on Practice C1 — Understand Culture and Context — and fully engage with a spectrum of viewpoints in this way, we are more likely to truly understand the problems at hand and then be better able to generate creative approaches to address them. Our innovations will be more grounded in reality, enjoy greater support from the communities involved, and be more likely to result in positive change.

Upward view of group of friends smiling.
Educators can create democratic processes for classroom procedures that actively seek to find ways to accommodate the concerns of students who don’t vote with the majority.
Older woman holding smiling child on lap.
Knowing when to simply listen with compassion without contesting others’ narratives—however wrong we find them—can often build understanding for later engagements with those we care about.

2. Context

Older woman holding smiling child on lap.
Knowing when to simply listen with compassion without contesting others’ narratives—however wrong we find them—can often build understanding for later engagements with those we care about.

3. Resources

Select one of our featured resources or visit the PI toolkit library for more tools.

A library full of books

How sharing our stories builds inclusion


  10 minutes

  By: Harvard Business Review, Selena Rezvani and Stacey A. Gordon

Three strategies for helping students discuss controversial issues


  10 minutes

  By: Greater Good Science Center

Student agency through civic engagement


  7 minutes

  By: Principled Innovation® (PI)

Education journey


  20 minutes

  By: Principled Innovation® (PI)

Access our collection of +200 learning materials

PI toolkit library

4. Connect the dots

How could this practice be enacted through the Civic assets?

Graphic illustration of perspective taking.

Perspective taking

Taking others’ perspectives often does not come naturally, particularly when we are separated from others by cultural or contextual differences. Perspective taking requires “engagement”—intentionally reaching out to enrich our understanding of others’ lived experiences.

Graphic illustration of altruism.


Taking the time to include and listen to multiple perspectives is essential to better understand people who are different from ourselves and the circumstances and challenges they face. It is through this engagement that our altruism is most likely to emerge. As with Practice C1, building a fuller picture of the context and social systems in which we seek to innovate helps to ensure that our altruism is not misguided.

Graphic illustration of civility.


Building solutions that benefit the common good requires honest, open communication. Yet conversations between people with diverse ideas can run hot. Civility is essential to lowering the temperature so that honest communication can run its full course. Civility is a commitment to our dialogue partners—a willingness to engage in the give-and-take of respectful speech, grounded in the belief that everyone is equally deserving of safety, security and the hope of human flourishing.

Graphic illustration of inclusivity.


Diverse environments do not always surface diverse perspectives: those voices must be intentionally invited into inclusive environments in which all stakeholders feel safe, welcome, and confident in expressing their views. Inclusivity fosters environments in which new perspectives can lead to new ideas and, ultimately, to long-term innovations.