The bubbles you build around yourself are the strongest.

When you see a bubble, pop it.

If nothing else, the 2016 election has made one thing very obvious: many of us live in a “information bubble”, where we only pay attention to information that reinforces what we already believe.

These bubbles, together with the speed and reach of social media, created an unprecedented opportunity for fake news — just create a fake headline or story targeted to people in a particular “bubble” and watch the clicks roll in as it spreads.

Even digital natives, young people who have grown up with social media, are not always savvy about what is real news v. fake news. It has become such a problem that Facebook is finally starting to take steps to combat fake news before more of their audience walks away from the site.

Bubbles are nothing new

Of course, it’s not just online news. Ever since we started hanging out in caves, humans have always been prone to living in bubbles and highly susceptible to spreading false information.

And it’s not just politics — people who run any kind of business, including credit unions, can also easily find themselves living in safe little information bubbles.

How many of these bubbles have you seen lately? What perspectives are missing from each?

  • Board Members who mostly discuss the credit union with other long-term members around their age.
  • A CEO who moved up from CFO, and only hangs around with other executives.
  • IT departments that finally got everything working right around 2008, and dismiss any thought of updating the member experience since it might break something.
  • CFOs who think Marketing budgets should automatically be the same as last year minus 10%.
  • Loan officers who complain about the workload when a loan promotion is successful.
  • Marketers who focus on staying busy and running product promotions on a predictable schedule instead of the “big picture” items like brand and market strategy.

When you see a bubble, pop it:

  • Encourage younger members to get involved with the Board and committees, or arrange for several of them to share their own stories about the CU with your existing Board.
  • Get your CU and executive team out of their offices and more involved in the community so they are in contact with a wider range of members and their concerns.
  • Involved in hiring? Look outside the usual narrow silos and consider candidates from different backgrounds.
  • Start seeing IT as a driver of growth, not just an infrastructure expense.
  • Start seeing the web site as your most powerful, active, interactive marketing channel, not just a brochure that glows.
  • Make sure everyone understands your brand and how to live the brand. Help them become member advocates.
  • Marketers build bubbles of their own. Get outside your own head. Try working with an outside resource (like iDiz Inc., for example) for a broader perspective, fresh ideas, and the horsepower to get more done faster. Attend a conference and pick up some new ideas and research. Look outside the CU industry for inspiration and ideas. Ask “why the heck not?” more often.

Most of all, keep a sharp eye out for signs of bubbles whenever you’re involved in a decision. Think about where your information came from, and think outside your own bubble.

Brian Wringer

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