Calexis

There is an old adage that You can’t read the label from inside the jar. The story is told in many forms, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” for example.

Groupthink is when everyone drinks the Kool Aid and agrees with an entrenched group idea that may make no sense from outside the group.  When you are inside, it is almost impossible to challenge the assumptions.

It is hard to recognize the predicament you are in, break-through and see what needs to be done.  On the other hand, an outsider can often see it easier.

That’s the reason we employ consultants, psychiatrists, even judges.  They look at our problems from the outside and see them clearer.  The sounding board it is almost impossible to be for yourself.

I often found as a boss, that when I was called into a situation by staff, I could more easily see the problem and solution because I was less invested in taking sides.

I have often wondered why there are so many Canadian comedians, actors and singers in the US. They see the US society and culture in a more objective manner than US people can. Their observational comedy can actually observe. The same way that marginalized, minority people can see the hypocrisy of the mainstream.

It is very difficult to look at your own culture in an objective way; you have so much invested in it. You constantly create all the arguments in favour of supporting the positions your group already has.  You are being bombarded with information supporting the culture you are in.

Think about where you live.  It is terrific, right. You almost automatically carry biases about your city, your country, your ethnicity, even your name, with you.  That’s tight, even your name.  When you have a list of candidates for a position, and you know none of them, you are biased to vote for the one with your name.  That may be stupid, but that’s the way we roll.

The same is true of recency biases where we overestimate the possibility of something happening because it just did.

So when you meet someone who is from a particular country, they will tell you all thee excellent things about that country and ignore the problems.  They are drinking the Kool Aid.

It is very difficult to look at your own culture in an objective way; you have so much invested in it. You constantly create all the arguments in favour of supporting the positions your group already has.  Plus you are being bombarded with information supporting the culture you are in.

It is hard to see yourself.  When I travel in Canada, people expect some “Toronto is the centre of the universe” attitude – if it didn’t happen in Toronto it is not important.  New Yorkers, and US people in general, have the same attitude.  It is all about us.  There was a New Yorker cover that hung on my wall for many years that showed how skewed our view of the world can be.

Outsiders see unlike insiders.

They might not be able to see themselves accurately, but they can see things insiders in other groups cannot see.  That’s partly why minorities have a clearer perspective of majorities than the majorities do themselves.  And why majorities can learn from their neighbours, their minorities.

It is also why advertising agencies, or consultants, can provide clients with a clearer view of what problems and solutions may be.  Sometimes, these become obvious when revealed.

The secret is they are not drinking the same Kool Aid.

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