Fresh ideas and new perspectives are the lifeblood of great work. But what happens when inspiration and affirmation routinely come from the same place—not from the intended audience but rather from a group of like-minded colleagues? Unconscious bias and homogeny of thought stifle originality, giving rise to an insidious force that threatens any creative business: the Creative Echo Chamber.
Ketchum and Fast Company commissioned a survey of 500 professionals in creative fields to assess the prevalence and impact of this type of groupthink (check out our panel on this topic at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity here).
A majority of creatives, we learned, believe they work in an echo chamber. They also believe that unconscious biases and homogeny of thought are inherent at many companies, mainly due to internal leadership, conversations with like-minded peers, and media that aligns with one’s own beliefs.
CREATIVE PROFESSIONALS BELIEVE THEY WORK IN ECHO CHAMBERS:
- More than half (54 percent) of those surveyed say they work in a creative echo chamber.
- Respondents identified conversations with peers (54 percent), company leadership (64 percent), and news (54 percent) that confirms and aligns with their beliefs and assumptions to be leading causes.
To break out of this bubble, respondents overwhelmingly believe in fostering diverse thinking. They emphasize hiring outside of the usual networks and industries, actively changing the work culture, and prioritizing recruitment of those with varied backgrounds (cultural, economic, educational) and varied skills.
THERE IS A NEED TO RESTRUCTURE HOW WE RECRUIT DIVERSE VOICES FOR OUR BUSINESSES:
- Nearly 35 percent of our respondents agreed that hiring outside of their networks or from outside the industry is needed to hire people with fresh ideas and mind-sets.
- Prioritizing the inclusion of people (21 percent) with diverse backgrounds and ways of thinking should be a priority on how to remedy groupthink and creative thinking.
- 10 percent of surveyed creative professionals believed changing the work culture, such as encouraging communication across teams and creating a more inclusive environment, is a step in the right direction to eliminate echo chambers.
The elimination of creative echo chambers is more than a creative challenge—it’s a business imperative.