Agile & Digital / Matrix Management / Virtual Teams

Time to prick that bubble?

Whatever your political persuasion, the US election has shown the stark polarisation of views within America. We have the same phenomenon in the UK over Brexit. In both cases it seems the different camps exist in different media bubbles. If you exist within one camp you probably get nearly all of your news from a source that supports your existing views. About 80% of people during the run up to the US election and Brexit votes claimed they didn’t really know anyone who held a different opinion.

Faced with the overwhelming and constant reconfirmation of your existing view, any result that doesn’t go your way is genuinely surprising and feels fraudulent.

The existence of these narrow bubbles of information is dangerous at a societal level but it is also a challenge for our own individual worldview and learning both at work and at home.

On a much smaller scale, I was disappointed about a week ago to read an article that referenced the idea of the “ambiguous organisation”. In the scale of current events that seems pretty tiny disappointment, but I’ve been focusing on complex organisations for 25 years, how come I hadn’t heard about this term?

It started to really irritate me, when I looked it up there was an active community of organisation development specialists talking about the issue, there are many articles, how could I have missed it?

As I read the articles and comments it became clear that I didn’t have a particularly strong network with some of the academic groups working in this area I wasn’t aware of a couple of specific authors coming at the research from that angle. I quickly followed them on LinkedIn, connected with some of the thought leaders and brought one or two of them into my Twitter feed.

As I read the articles it became clear that this was just another term for a 2-speed organisation managing multiple different priorities at the same time. However, after expanding my bubble I did notice that my social feeds now include a slightly different strand of thinking.

Now I doubt you are as obsessive as me on complex organizations, but If you have been surprised by something in your area of expertise or interest, or if results in wider society seem to indicate that your view is not shared by large groups of people, then maybe it’s time to prick your bubble. Why not reach out and connect to people with different views and different types of expertise.

I will warn you, it can be very irritating to hear people who have a very different view than you – that’s kind of the point about exposing yourself to different perspectives.

All media sources carry some form of bias, either mild or extreme. When I lived in France, I tried to read the French and English quality newspapers on world affairs and they always had significantly different slants.  Take the time to watch news programmes from different countries and experience that for yourself

In our training programmes we call it your “learning ecosystem” consciously connecting to a range of expertise from different perspectives so that you are exposed to new ideas are not blindsided by new developments.

Today more than ever seems like a good time to prick your bubble, connect to a diverse set of opinions. Read everything critically. Without understanding other perspectives, we will never respect them or be able to incorporate the best of all ideas into our own thinking.

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