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Lend me your mind's ear — communications and portals

If everyone’s thinking the same thing, give me a contrarian

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We need to learn how to listen to the contrarians. The ones who don’t feel it.

They won’t always be right. But they will help challenge beliefs we see as self-evident.

No as affirmation

People who challenge us to challenge our own beliefs are worth their weight in gold.

Sadly, contrarians are often labelled as “difficult” or “disruptive” — just like creative kids in school. They don’t swim with the majority.  This is their strength.

We all have biases.

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

— F. Scott Fitzgerald

It’s largely the contrarians who force you to analyze the greatest dangers to a popular idea, company or product. Part of leadership is having the confidence to listen. Listening is too often the forgotten communication skill.

Whether dialogue begins as scribbled notes on paper or a conversation in a cafe — dialogue is communication. Communication is at the heart of all innovation.

Diverse communication, voices with differing opinions, offers the best framework for generating/evaluating new ideas and alerting an organization to:

  • Illusions of invulnerability
  • A pervasive belief in the moral goodness/rightness of the group or the group’s ideas
  • An often self-imposed inability to think critically

Sometimes no is the no we should’ve said yes to

Rarely is the short-term gain of a less-than-honest tactic effective in the long-term. Flouting best practices can work for awhile, but, ultimately, less-than-best practices will fail.

When the consumer sees what she deems to be corruption, poor customer service, bad labour practices or other corporate failings, she tends to react. She exercises the freedom she has:

Choice.

Maybe not immediately but eventually.

Social media, highly mobile, has amplified the ability to react with great impact.

When a company, product or idea reaches a certain mass, it becomes its own worst enemy. Some stakeholders can become inculcated. Perhaps this is one of the most vital times to challenge biases, beliefs and assumptions.

Momentum carries forward, but eventually reality strikes like the force of gravity. In crisis, leadership may exert more control and listen less. Can success cause a similar phenomenon?

A company, product or idea has hit (or is very close to hitting) its zenith at the point of maximum group think. It’s different this time is the tolling of a bell. The point of critical mass often exerts itself in a mania, and depends on people thinking the same and buying the same products or consuming the same products or beliefs.

Success breeds failure: Failure breeds success

There’s an irony in that success can breed failure.

Often, the ones we should’ve listened to go unheard.

Eventually, you’re expending most of your energy trying to convince consumers that your product or ideas are still the best or the coolest rather than coming up with the products or ideas that truly are the best or the coolest.

Maybe you forget to develop the relationships that fulfill the need that needs fulfilling.

In all creative thinking, the really new looks ugly at first. It’s threatening. And it threatens the adherents of the current popular idea, product or company most.

Do we just want our lives to be easy? Do we resist being pushed to think? None of us think so.

If the majority of people are consuming the same product or idea, are they thinking differently or thinking the same? And what will this lead to?

A complicated question.

Rare is the product or idea that is perpetual. Our digitized world has shrunk space and time. We are accelerating. Even the speed of light no longer seems beyond us.

The challenge of challengers

Challengers are generating ideas, products and services. Forming relationships. They’re innovating. Somewhere amongst those challengers is the next monster product or idea, waiting to be born.

Partnerships create value. Considering biases is part of the value partnerships create.

Think or be out-thought.

We need to continue to listen to those who criticize the present – not because they are difficult, but for the potential to see the unseen, to hear the unheard. We need to listen to those who are looking toward the future rather than fixating on the present, or worse, the past.

Will we?

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