Anyone can get caught in a bubble – it happens without you realising it. And even if you notice, it can be hard to escape.
I remember one CEO telling me that his big worry was isolation. Not emotional isolation, but isolation from real information. He felt stuck at the end of a corridor, in a corner office, and found it very hard to really know what was going on in his company, with his customers, or indeed in the wider world. He seemed to see the board and his investors more than anyone else. All information came to him in the form of reports. His diary was scheduled for him, and access to him was strictly controlled, albeit with the best of intentions. If he ventured out of his office into the corridor, the people he met were highly motivated to reinforce his existing view of the world.
“And I’m supposed to be in charge here!” he half-joked.
He was a particularly intelligent, insightful and personable guy. This was not the result of willful neglect or a tendency to complacency. It had crept up on him.
To solve the issue, we put together a list of new people and places to visit, and new experiences to seek out, and off he went on tour. He visited designers, academics (and not just business school academics), advertising executives, TED talkers, computer geeks…
He came back with fresh perspectives, renewed energy, new ideas for the business and new ways to inspire and lead his people. And he started having fun at work again.
All of us – and not just CEOs – can get sealed up in our own reality bubbles. It takes active work to resist, and it gets worse – and the isolation gets more dangerous – as the pace of technological change accelerates.
As you think about your summer vacation, now is a good time to start planning to have different experiences that will break you out of the bubble.
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Andy Bass is the founder and principal of BassClusker Consulting, and helps leaders to bring their strategic goals to fruition more quickly and completely, wherever possible using resources they already have. He has worked across a wide range of industries and sectors including professional services, technology, media, health, financial services, packaging, automotive and education.