How Incorporating Diverse Perspectives Leads to Cohesive Solutions — In Conversation with Andrea A. Birch, MD

Talking Trends
4 min readDec 19, 2023
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An individual’s background, identity, economic status, and life experiences all influence how they interact with the world and reciprocally affect how the world engages with them. Consequently, each person will encounter any given issue through a distinct lens. Adopting an intersectional approach to problem-solving that considers and involves the perspectives of many different people, enables the discovery of distinctive solutions that more effectively cater to a broader audience.

We are in conversation with Andrea Birch, M.D., a breast imaging radiologist with over 30 years of experience. Dr. Birch works to close achievement gaps and make sure individuals’ voices are heard. She is an empathetic leader with a proficiency in encouraging people to look at problems from different angles, find appropriate solutions, and take the necessary actions to resolve them.

Andrea, you told us that you actively work to involve people with different lived experiences when tackling complex issues. How does the diversity of voices lead to more innovative and effective problem-solving? Why is this so important to you?

“Individuals with different backgrounds and life experiences will view the same situation in a wholly unique way. It’s important to involve people with different lived experiences when tackling complex issues because it helps ensure that we are coming up with solutions that are inclusive and equitable. When we only involve people who have similar experiences, we might overlook the needs of those who are different from us — this can lead to actions that at best are ineffective and can even be harmful to certain groups of people.

“When you bring together a diverse group, it can cause strikingly different viewpoints to collide. This is not necessarily a conflict, but rather an opportunity to navigate the world using someone else’s optic. That’s the catalyst for progress: you can’t unsee what you have seen. Finding the commonalities between contrasting ideas and developing solutions that enhance the lives of people with different lived experiences are the greatest challenges and reap the greatest rewards.

“For example, I sat on a committee tasked with the establishment of new student organizations. The members of the committee looked similar to one another, with similar academic rank and age. Students added to the committee the following year brought dimension to the process by broadening our understanding of how these organizations interact with each other, the institution, and the community at large. Even though everyone brought in their authentic lived experiences, the selection process became more robust and inclusive once we invited participation by students.

“On the business front, it is essential for companies to consider input from different perspectives and stakeholders. Leveraging a thorough understanding of the needs of consumers — including who is being impacted by a challenge and who will be affected by the mitigating actions taken — supports the development of sustainable and inclusive solutions.

“For instance, when rolling out a new product, engage a group of individuals whose diversity reflects that of your consumer base to test it. You’ll learn more about your product and how it does (or doesn’t) fit into the lives of different people. For example, if somebody has a physical challenge and isn’t able to use your product, you’ll be able to see why and then find ways to improve it before it hits the marketplace.

“By involving these different viewpoints, you’ll not only find new ways of addressing the challenges you face, but will be able to implement solutions that work on a broader scale. This in turn allows you to better serve your constituency — be it consumers, workforce, patients, or students. In the end, you are helping to build a more inclusive environment.”

Thank you, Andrea, for sharing this valuable insight with us.

About Andrea A. Birch, MD: With over three decades of experience in patient care and teaching, Dr. Birch focuses on using her sphere of influence to improve lives by ensuring people take action. As an instructor and mentor, she strives to pass on knowledge and inspire a thirst for life-long learning. She is active in raising awareness about women’s breast health. Her overarching mission is to work towards achieving health equity, breaking down barriers and reducing disparities.



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