“Conversations are the stem cells of learning.” – Jay Cross
I recently read something that intrigued me. I couldn’t find it again, so I’ll paraphrase the message. As context, the author was talking about how someone with a different world view was opining about the views of the author. And his simple message was “if you want to know what I, or an X, thinks, ask me or an X. Don’t ask the anti-X.” And I think that’s important. We need to talk together to figure things out. We have to get out of our comfort zone.
It’s all too evident that we seem to be getting more divisive. And it’s too easy these days to only see stuff that you agree with. You can choose to only follow channels that are simpatico with your beliefs, and even supposedly unbiased platforms actually filter what you see to keep you happy. Yet, the real way to advance, to learn, is to see opposing sides and work to find a viable resolution.
Innovation depends on creative tension, and we need to continue to innovate. So we need to continue to engage. Indeed, my colleague Harold Jarche points to the book Collaborating with the Enemy and argues that’s a good thing. The point is that when things are really tough, we have to go beyond our boundaries. And life is getting more complex.
So I keep connections with a few people who don’t think like me, and I try to understand the things that they say. I don’t want to listen just to those who think like me, I recognize that I need to understand their viewpoints if we’re going to make progress. Of course, I can’t guarantee reciprocity, but I can recognize that’s not my problem.
And I read what academic research has to say. I prefer peer-review to opinion, although I keep an open mind as to the problems with academic research as well. I have published enough, and reviewed many submissions, so I recognize the challenges. Yet it’s better than the alternative ;).
This is, however, the way we have to be as professionals. We have to understand other viewpoints. It matters to our world, but even in the small little worlds we inhabit professionally. We need to talk. And face to face. It matters, it turns out. Which may not be a surprise. Still, getting together with colleagues, attending events, and talking, even disagreeing (civilly) are all necessary.
So please, talk. Engage. Let’s figure stuff out and make things better. Please.