10 Ways to Break Out of the Echo Chamber

"O Captain, My Captain!"

Sometimes you need to drive a different route to work.

When you do that – you see new things.  Or even see the same things from a different vantage point.  Remember the scene in “Dead Poet’s Society” when Robin Williams has his literature students stand on their desks?

Williams, playing teacher John Keating, tells them: “I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.”

It is easy to do things the same way over and over again – until it becomes automatic.  So automatic that you never stop to consider why you are doing it that way anymore.

In business – especially in communications and marketing – that’s dangerous behavior.

All of us get complacent.  We forget to keep exploring and asking questions.  We all have our own echo chambers where are beliefs and reinforced (for many of us its called our RSS feeds).  So here are 10 ways to break out of our own personal echo chambers:

1. Drive a new way to work.  Take the scenic route or just drive randomly and see if you can find a shortcut – or even a longcut.

2. Don’t read your RSS feeds for week and instead read publications and blogs that you don’t usually read.

3. Pick up a book from a genre you never read – Fantasy, Western, Romance, etc. – and dive right in.

4. Don’t watch television for a week and see if your perspective changes on how you relate/understand news stories.

5. Order a lunch that you’ve never ordered before from a restaurant that you’ve never been to.

6. Start a conversation with a stranger.

7. Take a personal day off from work and go to a matinee.  Or get a massage.  Or go to a museum or the library.  Break your daily routine.

8. Invite a co-worker you’ve never had lunch with to lunch.  Have a real conversations with them.

9. Pick out a random assortment of Tweeples and read through their tweets to get a completely different perspective from the usual group of people that you follow.

10. Stand on your desk.

How about you?  Got any advice on breaking out of routines?

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2 Responses to “10 Ways to Break Out of the Echo Chamber”

  1. Great post, George! I love shaking things up a bit. Here are some other suggestions:

    * Order a different beverage at Starbuck/Dunkin Donuts. So many people always take their coffee the same way every morning.

    * Make a conscious effort to sign off your work email on the weekends. Don’t check your Blackberry!

    * Try a new, local restaurant each month. Keep a list and see if you can go to all of them in your neighborhood.

    * Do a different work out. People get stuck in exercise routines – spice it up!


  2. Hi Katie:
    Those are great ideas! As a person who has a difficult time not ordering a grande latte at Starbucks – I’ll have to try to resist the urge and try something new…

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