Have you ever thought your boss, teacher, coach or friend was wrong? Have you ever had a feeling that something you were doing wasn’t quite as good as it could be? What about the opposite situation. What about when you completely trust your boss? What if you have placed yourself in a team known for high achievement? Before I continue, watch this video…
First of all, these penguins are hilarious. Second, it is a perfect illustration of how we can get tangled up in a culture of blindness. The first penguin did nothing wrong. It took a chance at a possible solution to their problem. It worked, the penguin got beyond the rope, but it certainly wasn’t ideal. Then, all the other penguins did it the same way, almost every one of them fell flat on their face.
One of the situations that this happens to us, as humans, is when a leader or organization has a traditional way of doing something. Most of the followers know it isn’t great, but it’s “the way things are done”. Traditions aren’t necessarily bad, until they start hurting us. Keep your traditions, build new ones. Traditions help build identity for a team. However, never allow yourself to fall to in love with traditions. If you do, then people will become afraid of questioning them. Once you stop questioning, you stop innovating. Once you stop innovating you become stagnant.
The second way this blind following happens is when you have a great leader or organization. I know I have followed people who it is very hard to question. Not because they create a culture of fear, or do not want the criticism, but because they are right all of the time, because I generally agree with them. However, in order to grow and avoid stagnancy we need to question the good people too.
I remember one time I was helping lead a hike. At one point in the hike we were supposed to stop for a swim. We had heard some thunder earlier but the skies were clear. The leader of the hike allowed the students to go for a swim. I was a little uneasy about it but I thought because the leader was ok with it, that everything would be fine. A few minutes into the swim there was a loud crash of thunder and we rushed everyone out of the water. It was pretty scary.
I still trust that leader 100%. I would follow him anywhere. However, I learned a valuable lesson that day. I tend to be a person on a team with contrary ideas. I like to think differently and throw wrenches in other peoples plans in an effort to make them better. If I feel something is wrong I speak up. However, that day I learned that I need to speak up even when everything feels right, even when the person speaking has been right every time previously.
“If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking” – Benjamin Franklin