The Sports Team’s Bubble (Echo Chamber)

In the sports world, it is easy for teams to get caught up in an echo chamber, or what I call living inside a bubble. An echo chamber is an environment where people are surrounded by information and opinions that only reinforce their existing beliefs, values, and biases.

While this is a comfortable and common practice, more often than not, in my experience, I have seen it become incredibly damaging to teams in the long run. When a sports team lives in a bubble, they become insulated from new (and often better) ideas and strategies.

This is because they are unlikely to innovate and adapt to changing circumstances. This causes them to have more prominent blind spots than some of their competing organizations, and thus they rely on the same, or similar, tactics and strategies to what has worked in the past while the more forward-thinking teams pass them by.

When a team is surrounded by people who only tell them what they want to hear, it leads to complacency and a lack of self-awareness. They are reluctant to change and far less likely to identify their weaknesses and areas that need improvement.

Every organization needs a trusted and completely objective outside voice, or they will likely fall into the traps of groupthink. As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “If everyone is thinking alike, then NO ONE is thinking.” This is lost on many teams and organizations across all industries.

Consensus and conformity are prioritized inside the bubble over critical thinking and innovation. Many of the teams I have worked with gave lip service to wanting to innovate, but as soon as I made some uncommon suggestions, I saw how bound by their fears they were. They then try what has been successful for other teams in the past and make the mistake of thinking that it is innovative.

Ironically, the few willing to do things that seem crazy today are usually the ones teams start to copy tomorrow. What is uncommon soon becomes common once teams succeed, and then the same teams who were bound by fear and dismissed those suggestions begin to copy them and think they are being innovative all over again. It’s a vicious circle that is far too common in sports teams.

The only way to avoid this pitfall is for owners and leaders to have the backbone to be laughed at in the short run for doing things unconventionally. Not all innovative ideas will work, but the teams that try the most different ones will figure it out eventually and likely become the dominant teams of the future…

Unless they fall into the bubble/echo chamber and stop taking chances again!


You can follow Sam on Twitter @SuperTaoInc


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