Monday, May 23, 2011

Balancing our Diet of Information

If you've been reading this blog regularly (and really, why wouldn't you?), you know that I love books, I love new ideas and I especially love books that bring us new ideas!  I've come to accept that not everyone loves books as I do, but I am a strong believer in the need for people to be open to, if not love, collecting new ideas.  In this way, the internet has been a tremendous gift to use, bringing access to new ideas, new thoughts, to our doorstep.  Or... does it?

In his book "The Filter Bubble", author Eli Pariser speaks openly about how the algorithmic editing of information on the web is significantly impacting our online experience.  These algorithms are based on our personal choices, mainly driven by what we 'click' on first.  As a result, they begin to tailor our query results and show us what they think we 'want' to see, not necessarily what we truly 'need' to see.  We therefore get caught in a 'filter bubble' that limits our exposure to a variety of information. 

We may receive information that fits our current mindset, but we no longer receive the variety of information that may serve to educate, enlighten or inspire us to learn or grow our ideas.  If we liken the information we take in to the food we take in, then instead of a healthy, balanced diet of information, we end up with a junk food diet of information.  Enough to sustain, but not built to nurture or develop new ideas.  We strengthen our current repetoire of ideas and views, but we don't expand them. Over time perhaps, we even begin to weaken and stagnate, much as our muscles may atrophy.

Just as we need to ensure that those online filters aren't limiting our search results, we need to actively work to ensure that we are exposed to messages, even if those ideas only serve to solidify the ones we have.  More often than not though, we're more likely to find ourselves beginning to link thoughts, ideas and concepts in ways that wouldn't have been possible without the intake of new information, providing us with stronger solutions, clarity in our thinking and perhaps, totally new and innovative ideas.

To be a leader, not a follower,
To be innovative, rather than conventional,
To develop the 'best' solutions, not just 'a' solution,
To grow, not stagnate...

... we need to be exposed to new ideas.  We need to expand our way of thinking by being exposed to the thoughts of others.  I know, I can hear you thinking... but who has the time?  This needn't be a practice that involves a great deal of time or exploration, but it does need to be strategic.  We're not talking here about your researching or reading only about those topics that you currently know and enjoy.  Learning can, and should, be uncomfortable at times, but if you want to challenge some of your existing knowledge and beliefs you have to get uncomfortable!

The Work:
  • Follow a couple of bloggers that are knowledgeable about areas outside your direct area of expertise.  Don't just follow those that think like you, follow a couple of people that think differently.  Hear what they have to say.  Relate it to your thoughts on the subject and consider whether it has an impact on how you feel, relate to, think about that subject now.  I often find that listening to someone's ideas on a totally unrelated subject can bring me insight and clarity to my particular issues.  It's often surprising how much you can take from other disciplines and apply to your own, helping you to grow and develop faster.
  • I love TED.  When I have 10 or 15 minutes between client calls or visits, I will often call up a TED talk randomly to watch and listen to.  ( for those of you that have not yet experienced this!)  I have yet to listen to one of these short talks that did not serve to provide me with a new thought or insight.  If you've got a couple of minutes to spare at some point during your week, check them out and discover something new, inspiring, earth-changing perhaps.  This is a perfect resource for those that don't like to read...  learn by watching a quality video!
  • Conduct a mini survey.  Ask a number of senior managers in your firm, or outside of your firm,  what they felt the 2 best books were that have helped them with their careers.  Amalgamate the results.  Read the top two or three.  Conduct a similar survey with a different question...  two best books on leadership, on business strategy, on marketing techniques, on sales approaches, on influence.  Instead of books, conduct a survey on who they feel two of the most influential people are in a particular field...  see if they have a blog/website and follow them
In the end, it's not about the route you decide to take to expose yourself to new ideas, it's just important that you do it!

No comments:

Post a Comment

This blog is all about and for you! I welcome your comments, criticisms, added thoughts and insights. Feel free to share openly with everyone here on the blog but know that if you want to share something directly with me, you can do so by emailing me.