Through Guy’s Eyes – The Problem with Polarisation

The Power of Polarization

American political commentator Ben Shapiro once noted that the world has become increasingly polarised, all because of technology.

That’s rather ironic, given that the Internet has connected us all in a single global village. Even the name, Worldwide Web, hints at cohesiveness and unity rather than schisms.

But, as anyone who has scrolled through a Twitter or Facebook feed will know, people are very strongly divided along almost any line you can think of. Even seemingly innocuous requests for restaurant recommendations can bring forth a stream of vitriol.

The reason for this, I believe, is that technology dumps information in our laps at an unprecedented speed. That’s no secret, of course – but, have you ever stopped to consider how very different this state of being is from the days when we used to consume traditional media?

Of course, in those days, content producers (or journalists, as they used to be known) attempted to present stories with as much objectivity as possible – or, at least, gave every appearance of trying to do so. Now, with the massive competition faced from digital sources, this lack of prejudice has gone out the window. In their ongoing effort to hold on to dwindling readership bases, they have reverted to representing extreme opinions. It all comes back to that old truism: sensationalism sells.

It’s inevitable that this extreme thinking shapes our mind sets in all areas of life – and that, perhaps, is why our organisations have become polarised. Everyone has an opinion about events in their company, and those views are seldom mild. Making matters worse is the fact that the division isn’t only horizontal, creating silos that separate colleagues; they’re also vertical, with distinct barriers emerging between leadership teams and their staff.

Allowed to continue in this vein, it’s only a matter of time until those opposing outlooks split organisations in half, making them entirely dysfunctional.

But how do you obliterate this “us and them” thinking, merging the two opposite ends of the standard distribution curve where opinions are at their most intense?

It comes down to helping them find common ground. Think of the overlapping area of a Venn diagram; this is the sweet spot, where coherence gives way to harmony and, ultimately, greater productivity.

Let us show you how.

Guy Martin is the founder & Managing Director of Blueprints: assisting CEOs to drive growth by increasing the alignment of their people to business goals by 50% within an 18 month period.