The Benefits of Balanced Content

Everything needs to be balanced. Our diets, our lives, the tires on our cars. Although we may overdue it on the pizza on occasion or work more than we should more frequently then we like, we all know and understand this reality. Even when our diets or lives are out of balance we typically notice and make a concerted effort to level back out in a reasonable period of time.

So balancing content?

This may seem like a counterintuitive concept but let me explain. In my global work with leading speakers, authors, and thought leaders, I’ve noticed that most content is out of balance. Authors and thought leaders have a tendency or a bias. They are either incredibly academic or hyper focused on business, and this makes sense, given that many thought leaders come from either the hallowed halls of academia or the shining towers of the corporate world. Their world view and perspectives are shaped by their experiences.

Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with leaning towards business or academia. The content market admires, appreciates, and consumes content that leans in either direction. That being said, the best content I’ve seen is balanced. It has hard data to support the theories and it is peppered with stories and anecdotes based on the content’s real world business application. All too often I’ve heard academics snobbishly dismiss a business book written by a world renowned CEO because it doesn’t have an academic underpinning or data. I’ve also heard many C level execs discount the potential value of content that comes from academia as they claim that it wouldn’t work in “the real world” of business.

So what’s a thought leader to do?

I’d use the Switzerland strategy. Be neutral and open to the needs and concerns of both sides and respect them both. For example, if you’re a less academic thought leader, put the effort in to finding some academic research to validate your concepts and theories. Chances are there is academic work that has been done that you can cite and it will neutralize the darts that academics may toss at you. Conversely, if you’re an academic you need to get out into the field and talk to business leaders and run experiments in the real world to validate your claims. Oftentimes things that should work just don’t for a variety of reasons; the lab is not the same as the market place.

Now you have one more thing to keep balanced in your life, however, the benefits of cross pollinating your work will make it stronger and reduce the resistance as it spreads across an organization.