Are you a fanatic about a sports team? If so, chances are you are among hundreds if not thousands who share that same passion and zeal. When you are with your "kind" (at the arena or stadium or in a bar), it's like a feeding frenzy. The crowd is a self-fulfilling prophecy; it reveres those who have been fans forever; who were actually there when XXXX did YYYY to ZZZZ; those who know all the stats and the history; and who have been there through thick and thin. Newcomers are viewed skeptically until they "prove" their loyalty, and "woe betide anyone who walks into our house wearing that [hated team X] shirt!"
If you're an "outsider" who happens into a bar at game-time, having a drink or a meal can be a rather odd experience. The intensity level during critical moments, the superstition, the insider lingo, the "us" and "them" stuff, etc. are certainly freakish, and may put you off that team forever.
Will you be able to find the truth about that team's ability/potential/etc. from those in that room? In Seth Godin's post about true believers and the truth, he said: "the truth of the market is that the products and services that win ... are rarely the products and services that are beloved without reservation by the true believers." Well said!
When I'm looking to buy a new product, the research I do online is equally about its capabilities (features, specifications, etc.) and about finding people who didn't like it, to understand what I'm really getting into. It's always easy to find those that really liked it, and who with their cognitive dissonance, want others to vindicate their decision, by joining the "team" and buying. I want the critic as well.
There's this interesting dynamic in "viral" marketing - everyone searches for mavens to advocate their product, but the real successes are when the mavens are a surprise. When the people who like it are the ones that "shouldn't" or ones that once decried it. They're most "legitimate" and most convincing.
The most powerful champion for your product is always the convert and not the lifer. The lifer is only able to talk to other lifers - and let's face it they don't have to be sold to anymore.
If you want to expand the size of your pie, you have to reach those that don't share your passion. The ones you already have need a different level and type of service.
This type of myopia also affects corporations. If you've drunk the Kool-Aid to the point where your world-view is utterly tainted, you simply can NOT make good decisions. Your vestedness impedes you from seeing the truth about your product, your competitors, or your customers. It absolutely prevents you from acknowledging (or even recognizing) any disruptive forces.
Many organizations view employees who use competitors' products as traitors (drinking Coke as a Pepsi employee); I'm all for passionate employees that care deeply about what they do and where they work, but surely there's an inherent flaw in only surrounding yourself with lemmings and sycophants? Surely you don't want to dis your customers by decrying what they also use/buy? How will you ever adapt, evolve and be successful over time?
Give me the objective skeptic over the fanatic every day - she's the one that I want to listen to. I want to know how the outsider critically assesses what I have, how I market and sell it, and what I'm building next. More critically, I want that objective outsider to help de-tint my glasses so I can see my customers, my marketplace, and my future with clarity and truth.
In life, many people go to a therapist for this type of objective perspective; at work, this is more difficult. I've only met one true management consultant in my life - Peter Drucker - a person who did not color his views for anyone, and certainly did not shape his PowerPoint presentation to please the customer, and ensure future business by telling them exactly what they wanted to hear, with just that mild hint of edginess (like using a black background) to be "credible."
This might not matter so much with sports, which is mere entertainment. But it sure does matter with work, with life, with business...
Do you have Kool-Aid drinking requirements at your company? Are people "rewarded" for strict adherence to the religion? Do people get punished for "straying"? Do you really know what's going on outside your walls?
Who's your corporate therapist?