My husband is going to be a “special guest” in my son’s class this week as they close their unit on community and invite parents to come in to talk about their professions. As a computer engineer, my husband is going to teach the first grade class about circuits by having them do an experiment with an LED light and a battery (if you get the + and – right, it lights up). This, my husband, in preparation for his presentation, teaches me is a closed circuit.
As I thought about the phrase closed circuit, it made me think of a phenomenon that I frequently observe in organizations which, until now, I have referred to as conversations with ourselves.
Conversations with ourselves is a chronic problem because we all tend to talk to on regular basis to our same core or inner-circles both individually and organizationally. In addition, communities arise out of shared general interests and result in overlap between the inner-circle networks of complimentary or related organizations. So even when we ask people not from our direct organization for their feedback or opinions, these supposed outsiders are often still part of a broader closed circuit.
This is problematic because while a closed circuit may be necessary for building computers, it is counterproductive in designing programs, events, campaigns etc. that attract a broad range of people. Even organizations with the narrowest of missions can’t afford to talk only to themselves.
Many are afraid to open the forum up and hear from a broader audience because let’s face it, you may hear things that are critical that you don’t really want to hear. However, they are things that need to be said and should be heard and processed. The only way to truly expand as an organization is to open the circuit up and stop having conversations with yourselves.