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Take a Sip of a Different Kind of Kool-Aid

Ruts are for cows, not for CEOs


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At lunch the other day, my very well-read friend described why he still buys books in bookstores. This was on the heels of a conversation about web privacy and how Amazon and many other online sellers zero in on what you buy and peruse to feed you products in your strike zone.

When you buy books that Amazon suggests, said my friend, you read mostly things that fit with your worldview. But when you browse at the bookstore, you look at topics that aren’t on your radar and thus get a broader view of the world. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but he’s spot on.

This general disorder – very much akin to confirmation bias – is particularly dangerous at executive levels of a company.

If you surround yourself with fawning disciples, always read the same publications, and are deeply rooted in your industry’s history and people, you’re ripe for getting a two-by-four upside the head, and you may not see it coming.

It’s time to taste some different Kool-Aid. Go to lunch with different people. Read some new news sources. Get out of your company and industry. You don’t have to quit your job, but consider rubbing elbows with executives who have different business models, different strengths, different strategies, different methods for dealing with their board, and perhaps a different age group. Get more curious!

As I was working with a talented executive team recently, we had a very interesting discussion about different styles of decision making, analysis, communication, and general thought processes and how those differences can make a much stronger team (and generally piss you off if you don’t take the time to understand why they exist). After the conversation, they vowed to change the way they interact to allow for more fully exploring issues and making decisions more effectively. Mixing up the Kool-Aid.

Ruts are for cows, not CEOs!

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Todd Ordal

Todd Ordal is president of Applied Strategy®. Todd helps CEOs achieve better financial results, become more effective leaders and sleep easier at night. He is a former CEO and has led teams as large as 7,000. Todd is the author of Never Kick a Cow Chip On A Hot Day: Real Lessons for Real CEOs and Those Who Want To Be (Morgan James Publishing, 2016). Connect with Todd on LinkedIn, Twitter, call 303-527-0417 or email todd@toddordal.com.

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