What happens if you put a dozen people in a room, each of whom has the exact same opinion on a given topic, and ask them to discuss that topic? Answer: not much. In short, they end up telling one another how amazing they are for having such a clearly brilliant opinion on the topic.
This is the Echo Chamber Effect – everyone agreeing with everyone else, for the simple reason that everyone else already agrees with them.
It’s a terrible way to approach life, political discussions, and business decisions. If you work with a group of homogenous people, who do and believe the same things, there is little to no chance of change, growth, or improvement. Foreign, sometime shocking or even disruptive, ideas are vital to the growth of any organization. To work within a limited spectrum of ideas is to stagnate and die. Let’s put it into real world example: imagine you have a great mechanic, he’s been doing your car for years, but he only works on cars of your particular make and model. When you’re looking at buying a new car, are you going to trust him to tell you what you should purchase? I’m betting he’s going to tell you to keep the car you have or -at least- buy the newer version of the same model.
That’s why it’s important to work with outside consultants (like ZenTek!) when you’re looking at the technology needs of your company. Your staff may be the very best at what they do, but when it comes to looking at new tech or avenues of improvement and growth, they have an intrinsic resistance because any type of change is a potential threat. When you put them all in a room, to discuss change options, the Echo Chamber Effect rears its ugly head. One person raises the negatives of change and in moments, everyone’s jumped onboard, supporting each other’s personal fears. It can kill any growth for your company instantly.
I recently worked with a client, where one of the managing partners wanted to upgrade everyone to Office 365. He was totally sold on the need and saw the long-term benefits of the O365 suite of products to their bottom line. Then he put it to a committee of IT staff and managers to work with me on the specifics of what they needed. The end result of which was -you guessed it- they didn’t see any need to make a change from the eight-year-old systems they had in place, even though I pointed out that most of what they were using had reached end-of-life and they would lose all system support. Echo Chamber Effect in action! Luckily for that firm, the managing partner ended up just taking control and pushing forward, despite the Echo Chamber.
I’m not saying to ignore staff input for technology growth or upgrades. It’s vital to get their input or any change will fail. What I’m suggesting is that you bring them in once the decision for change has already been made. When you start from a standpoint of: “This is where we’re going, we want your input on the best way to get there”, things go much better than asking employees if they think you should change at all. You need their expertise on the “how to” but they are possibly the worst people to ask when it comes to deciding “should we”. That’s where management needs to talk with a tech expert they trust to give straight answers and look at the changes from both a business and productivity standpoint. Once you’ve determined the need and the tools to address it, then you look to staff to help you define the simplest path to implement the new tools.