I borrowed my wife’s phone recently to read an article on a news site and was struck by how different her news site looked in comparison to mine. The same can be said for her Amazon site, google search results, and so on.
In a world of cookies, breadcrumbs, and other nifty tracking systems, our interactions with the internet are very biased. Biased towards our perceived likes. This is mostly done because of the financial model behind the platforms – the more we click on things, the more money they make. Therefore it pays (literally) for the platforms to serve us with information that they think we will like (and click on) due to their understanding of what we have liked, visited, clicked on, bought previously.
This is one of the reasons there is value in visiting sites of people and organisations who have completely opposite viewpoints and beliefs to yourself. This is most apparent during an election cycle; if our friends on Facebook all hold relatively similar political views to us and we tend to only read articles that support and strengthen our views, then this is all that we will see in our feeds. But if I (a Canadian and EU citizen living in the UK) spend time on the Brexit Party & BNP sites, if I read articles about how terrible immigration is, spend time reading white supremacy articles, then the information in my news feeds will change.
This isn’t a post about the internet or about elections. We do this to ourselves in our lives, we discount, sometimes even avoid, people we different opinions to ourselves. We don’t include the ‘luddites’ in our digital transformation discussions because ‘they don’t know what they are talking about anyway’. We exclude opinions of the other because ‘they just will slow things down and be a pain’.
We all like our bubbles of comfort, of sameness, of people agreeing with us. But as leaders, and we all are leaders in different ways, we need to cultivate and seek out the conflicting opinions and viewpoints. Change and innovation often happens in the points of difference, not where things are the same (if things remain the same, then by definition there is no change).