The Danger of Groupthink

When we gather together, there’s pressure to agree.
Groups create norms. And belonging often means we have to conform. Challenging those norms threatens the group.
And so it can put our belonging at risk.
As a result there is a dynamic to agree. To choose people like us. To conform to the pack for safety and harmony.
But we become blinded to danger.
We make poor decisions that threaten the group’s safety. We don’t see what was obvious to others. It happens over and over again in all kinds of groups.
The key is in having diversity of thinking.
But this means we have to create the safety to challenge. And the ability to be challenged internally. All, so we can safely navigate the real external dangers.
In this podcast episode Clark, Tony and I discussed diversity, conflict and groupthink.


Tony: [00:00:00] When I relate back to my school, like my sister’s associate dean of Manchester university, My brother’s an Oxford scholar, and I’m not academic at all. I love learning. I’m curious. I go out in the world and find my way, a bit of a, like a Bedouin or something, a nomad.

Tony: And it’s, I find myself doing, if I’m presenting at a university, it’s such a, I find it quite empowering in a way that I didn’t do any of that, but yet here I am doing this. So it makes no sense. But when I relate it back to school, it simply was that I was disengaged by the methodology, and the methodology was, I think we’ve talked about it before, the methodology was created for a certain Purpose to, you know, to get people really highly focused on the industrial revolution and dealing with all the, the rigors of doing too much work for not enough cash.

Tony: And clearly that didn’t suit me real well, but my daughter’s sort of a hybrid of me and my family, and that she’s incredibly academic, like nine A’s in [00:01:00] GCSEs, and she was, and that’s not driven by me at all. Clearly, my history says that academia and me are not great bedfellows. She’s purely self determined in that regard.

Tony: And halfway through her A levels she was at a selective school, clearly predicted very high grades, and just was hating every minute of it, like I was. You do what you do for your kids, but it’s two hours out of every day either for me and Elle and my wife to get to and from school.

Tony: So it’s okay if we really had certainty about what was at the end of it all. It might make sense, but I couldn’t make sense of it, but mainly Sophie, my daughter, couldn’t make sense of it. And kids of that age obviously don’t always know what they want to do, but she’s had this love of animals all her life.

Tony: Anyway, we took her out of school halfway through her A levels. So with a year to go, she started studying biology and zoology, self driven from home. She’s now finished both. And we went to Chester, she got a interview and assessment there at Chester Zoo as an apprentice zookeeper.

Tony: Time will tell whether she gets the gig or not, but it’s [00:02:00] all that’s where I’ve been. Tying those two things together. 

Clark: But she will get it, won’t she? Whether she gets this gig, it’ll be another gig. Because clearly she’s 

Tony: found a purpose. She knows what she wants. She’s been looking at all the really high cost international opportunities, of course, that are not an apprenticeship that gets paid, albeit the cost of it to move to Chester.

Tony: However, There are things globally where she can go and get involved in. All those things that she’s interested in that might come at a cost, but that really put value on it, can you? 

Clark: That point you made about the way the education system was designed to create a certain type of person to fit into the old industrial model that we, we had for so long?

Clark: I find that interesting because my, I had a similar story with my daughter. She. It was clear from the moment I first met her when she was born that there was something special about her, very clever. And to be fair, I suppose I was probably a little bit too my expectations for her were too high because I pushed her all the way through her childhood to do well.

Clark: And she did exactly as you’ve just [00:03:00] said, something like eight, nine eight pluses at a level. Then she was offered a scholarship to Norwich school, which is an extraordinarily expensive school, private school in Norfolk. She visited they were very keen to have her. And when we came out, she said, I’m not going in.

Clark: She said I the mindset that encourages a person to want to go here is not my mindset. I don’t want to be a lawyer, doctor, whatever it is she’s got other plans and exactly as you just said about your daughter, she’s gone off in her own direction, doing extraordinarily well but I think we live in an environment now, thankfully, where people are encouraged to, to be themselves and to find their own way.

Clark: And there is not just one way anymore because the old industrial manufacturing paradigm is expanded enormously to include. Virtually anything that a person might want to be. And it’s great to see that because me and you are probably similar in that regard. We did not fit into that mold. 

Clark: the posts that I write on LinkedIn are testament to the fact that I just don’t speak the language of the world. And [00:04:00] yet there is an audience for it. So clearly if you are able, even if it takes most of your life to find your niche it’s definitely worth it. Thankfully our kids I’m finding it a lot sooner, which I think goes well for the planet. Thank goodness. I absolutely 

Rob: My daughter had a similar she did pretty well at GCSEs. And she got to a level and just completely just gave up and she got through, she got her A levels and she thought about uni. 

Rob: I took her around looking at some, she go, I’m not gonna go. She go, I’m gonna go for the wrong reasons. I’m just gonna go and party. She said, I’m not gonna do any work. 

Rob: She did an NVQ. She worked for a year. She did a couple of different bits of things.

Rob: So she went later. And even though she got decent enough a levels to get in. She had to do an extra year because she was 21 going Sheffield University, cause it’s one of the Russell group they made her do a foundation year as well. 

Rob: But she’s knew what she wanted to do and she really into it. She really worked well. She got her first, she got enough experience that she was able to pick her job that she wanted. She [00:05:00] got a good starting salary. But. In coaching people, I’ve often found a lot of the people are in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and they have followed all the patterns.

Rob: They’ve worked really hard. They’ve done everything they’ve told. They’ve worked really hard at their career. They’ve worked their way up. They’ve got up there and then they’re like, What’s the point? Or they burn out. Because, and I think that’s what happened in a lot in the corporate world is people are following what they’ve told.

Rob: They’ve always been pushed by their parents. They’ve been pushed by the organization. They’ve done it. And it doesn’t fulfill them. I think probably all of us and our kids, and I think most kids now, are rejecting that pattern. And the earlier that you reject that pattern, the more that you find yourself, but the, it’s harder for the people that have followed it and have worked until their 40s, 50s, and then suddenly think what for?

Rob: So I think it’s, I think it’s a large key to a lot of the disengagement because it’s based on a model that doesn’t work. 

Tony: You think about that pursuit of [00:06:00] whether it’s academic excellence or whatever, and the validation that comes from doing it well done, you’ve got great results, we’re really proud of you.

Tony: So it’s that ongoing pursuit of validation. If I keep working hard, people are going to keep telling me I’m doing well. And as a consequence, they haven’t had the time to actually reflect and understand who they are, that they’re good at what they do, they’ve practiced, they’ve trained for it, they’ve studied hard, and they’ve been told various stages and milestones along the way that they’re doing really well, the promotion, the extra pay packet, whatever it might be.

Tony: But that’s not it, is it? 

Rob: There’s something I remember vividly from primary school and it was break time. And I, all I wanted to do when I was at school was play football. So I was running off coming out of class and this kid looked at me and he said You’ve got no pride in your work.

Rob: He said, why don’t you take some pride in your work? And I thought, that’s your mum speaking. And but I looked at him and I was like, okay. I give no effort to my work and I get the top marks in the class. [00:07:00] How can you sit there and think that you are taking pride in your work and when there’s tests my work is better than yours.

Rob: And you are saying have pride. How can you have pride? I was like I don’t value it. Let me just go off and run and play football. 

Tony: Good at football. 

Rob: I was just at primary school was my peak. I was the second best. There was there was another, sorry, 

Clark: I peaked at age seven.

Rob: Yeah, I reckon. So I, we had such the, we had the cubs and the scouts. When I started. Like when you’re the little one and you don’t quite get in the team in the sub. And we were rubbish. And then the year above me, our year and whatever, we were the first ones to do the double and we did it for three years.

Rob: But I was, because I think I played young, I was good down the wing, but I would never work at it. And I wasn’t a tackler. I would never track back. I was a prima donna. And so then when I got to high school, I hadn’t worked enough. But Yes, I peaked way too early. 

Clark: Rob, I’m just thinking about what you were just saying about the people that don’t want, and it speaks to what we’ve just been talking about, this idea that people don’t want to conform now to a a way of [00:08:00] living, functioning and working.

Clark: That subscribe to an old model that, as you said, doesn’t work anymore. And I was actually having this conversation yesterday. I have a really good friend who is a professor in the London School of Economics. She’s the professor of historical political economy or something like that. I can never get my head around it.

Clark: It’s enormously complicated and speaks with political think tanks and all those sort of people about the way economic policy governs the way the world functions. But we were talking about this yesterday morning because she’s written a book last year, I think it was about, and it’s called the late Soviet Britain, which I found fascinating.

Clark: It talks about the fact that the way Britain has been set up for the last 50 years has emulated, if you like, the Soviet model, just prior to it collapsing in as much as it’s become this enormously top heavy bureaucratic system that really only functions nowadays to serve itself. It’s this beast that just feeds on itself.

Clark: If you go into that if you work as part of [00:09:00] that animal, all you’re doing is just feeding the beast. And eventually as we saw with the Soviet Union, it collapses. And the point of the book is that Britain, whilst it’s completely different politically to the Soviet Union, follows a similar pattern, and it’s become so top heavy, so Byzantine in this labyrinthine bureaucratic comings and goings of the bureaucrats within Whitehall and so on.

Clark: That eventually it is bound to collapse, and that’s the point she’s making, that we’re heading for this inevitable conclusion. And that whilst people probably don’t realize this, the average person senses that there’s something wrong with the world at large, but they perhaps don’t necessarily understand why that might be taking place.

Clark: That we’ve become this really top heavy bureaucratic system. Nobody wants to be a part of it anymore. So when you say that it doesn’t work, clearly it doesn’t. It did. Back in the industrial age when we were, according to Victorian principles and, like your friends said, why don’t you take any pride in your work?

Clark: That was a key value back then. Nowadays, to have pride in your work just [00:10:00] for its own sake is not necessarily a part of the way people want to operate anymore. And I find it fascinating because we’re at the point, I think we’re at the threshold of an enormous sea change in the way the Western world functions.

Clark: And talking to my friend yesterday about her book the obvious question that I asked her was, so what’s the answer then? If the whole edifice is about to collapse, what do we do about it? And she said, I don’t know. Nobody knows. And that’s the worrying thing. The Soviet Union was fortunate in as much as people like Gorbachev introduced the idea of perestroika and glasnost and opened up channels with the West.

Clark: That’s not necessarily going to be the case with certainly Great Britain we don’t have that same relationship with the world. We weren’t isolated from the world the way the Soviet Union was, so we won’t be welcomed. And we’ve actually isolated ourselves with regards to Brexit, so it’s a completely different situation.

Clark: How that turns out is going to be very interesting to watch, because it seems that the politicians are just hanging on for dear life. And you can see that. There’s no plan for the future. Nobody has got any alternative options for [00:11:00] us. And I think hope for us as a society lies in our daughters and sons these people that have decided that we’re going to do it our way.

Clark: The change will happen organically and they will adapt. Thank goodness. But whereas most of our generation will be still trying to keep this whole sharaband together with bits of duct tape and string and glue. But hopefully the next generation are going to take this part of the bull by the horns and do something about it.

Tony: Yeah. It’s great analogy. And if I think about, Take this whole discussion to the Euros, the football, the England team, and as much as we want to be entertained and we want the team to play better than they have been and all of those types of things.

Tony: There’s a whole host of reasons why they might not be, like loads. And yet the pundits who’ve played for good teams and been through England failures in the past and struggled themselves. Still use the language. That doesn’t work, the language that we’re talking about, the expectation, [00:12:00] typically in the moment, perhaps an emotionally driven response to a performance that you were expecting more from, and you’ve got a responsibility to the public to share those views.

Tony: A lot of these kids are a lot younger than some of those guys were as well. Take Jude Bellingham as an example, playing at the top club in the world, surrounded by the best players in the world. Perhaps they make it easier for him to be himself in that environment than the current England team. They were surrounded by great players at their clubs, get to train with them every day, but they come together for this tournament. The expectations magnified and with a very short time to pull something together.

Tony: It’s just not clicking this fear there. How can we expect a 20 year old to really know himself to the degree because they haven’t been there before. They haven’t managed that I’m about to step over that white line for England, representing the country, even though I play for Real Madrid, or I play for Man United, or I play for Man City, whoever. I’m still a baby in the grand scheme of things, and I don’t know how to handle [00:13:00] this.

Tony: I’m not even thinking like that, I’m just in the moment, dealing with it. 

Tony: To varying degrees, my biology is stopping me from being the player that I want to be. I don’t even know that’s happening, but it’s happening. I’m just an inch away from making the right run at the right time. There’s this sense of stasis. I see so many players just not moving. There’s no fluency to it. So it’s fight and flight right there.

Tony: It’s happening in front of our eyes. And yet, it’s so easy to go, they’re not playing well, I’m disappointed, my expectations were here, they perform there, therefore I’m going to tell the world how bad they are, and how Gareth Southgate needs to go. It’s not quite that simple.

Clark: Tony, it’s really funny you use the funny spaces, because I used this in that conversation yesterday. It’s fascinating that we clearly clicked into the same concerns because one of the things I said was that we like the human body, which is constantly striving for homeostasis that it will constantly try to revert to the way the status quo.

Clark: And I said the issue that we have is that whenever I go into a company, you guys know that I am [00:14:00] constantly banging this 10th manager. Asking the question, what about this and what if this. 

Clark: When I turn up by, by definition, I’m unwelcome by virtue of the fact that I’m there, there’s a problem and I’m not wanted and they will often get rid of me as soon as they can because they, all they want to do and we heard it during COVID we just want to get back to normal.

Clark: We just want to get back to the way things were and one of the things that we concluded again, as you’ve just said, Tony, is that we don’t have the language to, to step into that new way of doing things because we are constantly looking backwards at the way things were. When I look at, for instance going back to football, Aston Villa reached fourth position in the Premier League this last season with exactly the same team that was heading towards relegation under a completely different manager.

Clark: I just found that fascinating because he turned up with a new language and as you just said, Jude Bellingham, what a star and Alexander Arnold and Foden and all these guys, they’re all stellar talent. And yet they, they exist [00:15:00] currently, in an environment that allows them to be themselves, the minute they step into the expectations are attached to an England team, we go straight back to the old template, where the language is completely different.

Clark: It’s all about expectations and work into an old model that they just aren’t capable of doing. These guys have been brought up through academies. Within systems that allow them to flourish, and then all of a sudden, bang, they’re back into a straitjacket again. One of the things that gives me enormous hope, I just mentioned that our kids clearly are already set up to take on new challenges.

Clark: But I think people like us, and there’s lots of us about, who were never academic. The fact, you said you speak in universities, and it’s empowering to do that. And I said to this professor yesterday, Abi, I said, I, I really, appreciate the fact that you indulge me in these conversations because we were talking for hours yesterday and she said no you’ve got something to say. You may not speak in academic terms but there are people like us who are challenging convention, orthodoxy and asking why are we [00:16:00] thinking this way. Why have we not got the language and what is the new language and how do we encourage the rest of us to adapt to it And as I say, when I go into organizations where, I’m not welcome, one of the biggest challenges for me is to encourage the leaders in those organizations to stop seeing themselves as the arbiters of how things should be done.

Clark: We speak the same language. They respond to the problems, as the problem arises, instead of saying this is how we’re going to do it, because this is the way we’ve always done it. Wait, let’s see what happens, and see what other people have got to say about it, and ask them what they think and so on.

Clark: Eventually, I hate to say this, but I’ve got a feeling, unless Mr. Southgate pulls something out of the bag, I can’t see him lasting much longer in that position, because We need some fresh thinking and 

Tony: yeah, and think he’s created an incredible harmonious environment for them.

Tony: I think there’s a, I’ve been thinking about this and obviously when I’m viewing this, I’m viewing it through my lens. So I’m optimistic. I’m thinking about there’s, there must be points [00:17:00] in games. Of course, we’re not privy to all the training and how people are showing up and all the rest of it.

Tony: Let’s assume everyone’s doing well. There’s a point where he gets called out for not making changes, for being quite pragmatic, for being, defense first. That’s his style. It’s going to be hard for him to change that if that’s, his way. However, my question is, does he have a 10th man in there that’s helping him?

Tony: Because I think he’s the kind of guy that would be interested in what his blind spots are. I’m not convinced anybody close enough to him is telling him, Gareth, you’re just behaving in your normal way here, which he’s either consciously knows that he operates that way and thinks that by being like this is the best chance of success.

Tony: Or, he’s in stasis. he’s concerned that a decision that he makes may have an adverse effect. He’s almost telling me that his prediction of the future, which is what coaches are always doing by keeping it the same, I’ve got a better chance of winning than I have of changing it. Or if I change it [00:18:00] I’m creating more of a risk of losing that it’s always it’s all of that’s going on. If he’s being forced and he is being forced almost situationally to perform differently than his nature is, let’s keep it all tight and we’ve got enough talent to get us over the line. The last game was a great example of that. The talent ended up getting him over the line, albeit from a flick on header and a long throw and all that sort of stuff.

Tony: It’s like route one stuff that got us there in the end that he’s not going to change. overnight. But my question is there a 10th man there that’s actually going, Gareth, you’re doing it again, mate. Asking him the questions about why is he not making it?

Tony: He’s got all this wealth of talent that can create and go past people and change the dynamic, change the direction, change speed, change the whole dynamics of a performance, but there’s a sense that’s not going to happen. And why would it, if that’s the way it is, and nobody’s having those conversations?

Tony: Of course, I don’t know that. Also Tony, I’d love to see them a little bit more proactive, 

Clark: but I’m not the management team. If you have a default mode of operation, if you [00:19:00] have a preferred way of working under pressure, that’s the way you’re gonna go. You are always going to revert back to default.

Clark: And one of the one of the problems that I see in most organizations when we talk about something like the 10th Man, the initial reaction when I talk to leaders within organizations about the 10th man is that they say, Oh yeah, I get that. Yeah. Yeah. I’ll get that devil’s advocate. I’ll get somebody that just challenged.

Clark: And I have to say, listen, it’s not about just being the awkwardest bugger in the room. It’s not about just being contrary. The 10th man is somebody that’s able to articulate an alternative view, but that has some sort of scope for success. And they have the best interests of the organization at heart.

Clark: I don’t know if anybody read the post that I did yesterday. About it’s all about how angry I get when I come across per passivity and apathy and indifference ’cause that’s the way I’m. I wrote another post last week which got banned. The LinkedIn took it off and I couldn’t speak for a little while.

Clark: It was about this idea that we’re just talking about this what the 10th man [00:20:00] should and shouldn’t be able to do. And the post was basically saying, whatever happened to that kid who, in the story of the Emperor’s new clothes, pointed out that the Emperor was walking around stark naked.

Clark: I said, I’ll tell you what happened to him. He got dragged off and was never seen again because no organization wants somebody that points out the faults within an organization. 

Clark: What the Emperor should have done Was given the kid a job and sacked everybody else. ’cause the rest of them were cowards sycophants.

Clark: Were just saying what the Emperor wanted to hear. And the idea is that an organization needs somebody. And think about it historically, court jesters were all powerful people. These were the only people within the kingdom that were allowed to say to the king. No.

Clark: What are you doing? This is stupid. Where the hell? Everybody else is just bowing and scraping. And I was mentioning in this post that the fact that there was a court jester in the 1500s who was present at a meeting where all of the grandees within the realm were talking about how they were going to invade this other principality.

Clark: And they were convincing themselves. And this is the thing [00:21:00] about groupthink. They were convincing themselves that this was the right thing to do and eventually this guy who became an enormously famous and wealthy this Court Jester said so you’ve all figured out how you’re going to get into this country.

Clark: Has anybody thought about how you’re going to get out again? 

Clark: That’s the point of the 10th man. When you say to Gareth Southgate, listen, I know that you’re under a lot of pressure now and there’s a need to prove yourself, but don’t do it in a way that shows everybody that you’re literally acting according to type.

Clark: Why not listen to what everybody’s saying? And, maybe you’ll end up ignoring them, but at least, try and open yourself up to new ideas. And this is where I think times are going to have to change. Because organizations, certainly as a country, We haven’t got a lot of options. We’ve got general election coming up and there’s not a lot of optimism in the candidates that that are putting themselves forward.

Clark: So it’ll be interesting to see how that pans out. You’re right. Sometimes it doesn’t need somebody to just say, Oh whoa. Let’s have a think about this . Yeah, 

Tony: absolutely. 

Rob: The thing I find most puzzling is Gareth [00:22:00] Southgate, when he came in, he was like a breath of fresh air. They were attacking. They did have that. I don’t know if it’s something to do with having a level of success but he seems to have just lost it. When I think back, because it’s the same old story with England.

Rob: When I think back that the times when they’ve done well. I think it was under Venables and Robson. It was when they started as a disaster, they started and something had happened and it forced them to change their plans. 

Rob: When I think of Jurgen Klopp, one of his great strengths is in changing the plan something will not be working.

Rob: They won’t be getting anything. And he’ll throw on a couple of substitutions and change the dynamics of the game. Maybe it’s something about being able to react and not be so set in your mind. I suppose when there’s so much pressure from the media, it looks like you’re either just following along with everyone.

Rob: So there can be a temptation to stay and be stubborn. I’m wondering if there’s something to do that. 

Rob: Then to your last point, I think we’ve got an election where there’s no one to vote for, but look at [00:23:00] America. And maybe it’s something to do with the strength of the country. When you’ve got Biden, who’s clearly, by most accounts, medically senile or whatever, he has some kind of condition. 

Rob: And the opponent is someone who’s still waiting for charges from the last election. Don’t know is, there’s something about the strength of the country, gradually the candidates for leadership become weaker and weaker.

Clark: Here’s the thing, Rob the flip side of this idea of the tenth man or the court jester, devil’s advocate, one of you, whatever you want to call it, is this idea of groupthink. There was a an economic statistician, Back in the 18 hundreds, I think his name was Galton, I can’t remember his first name, who coined the term groupthink or he certainly started off the investigation into the workings of how Groupthink functioned.

Clark: What he realized was that the story starts with him going to a fair in England somewhere, these village fairs. And there was a competition at this fair. 

Clark: Whoever could guess the weight of this bull. Could win the Bull, because these were the [00:24:00] things that people aspired to back then. And there were all these people that were entering, and paying whatever it was, a shilling or whatever, to guess the weight to this bull. But what this guy Galton did was, he said to the organizers, Can I have, please, all of the notes that you’ve taken of all the people that have put in their guesses? And let’s say there were 500 guesses in this little notebook and he, what he did was he added up all of the guesses that people had made and then divided it by the amount of people and the average was within something like three or four ounces off the actual result.

Clark: And this is where he started to think about how when you’ve got a large body of people. Deciding on something or trying to figure out the way to do something. The bigger the group and the more diverse the opinions, the more accurate the decision that they’ve come up with, but there was a proviso.

Clark: He said, the most important thing is that they must all have diverse opinions, because if they all start to believe the same thing, as in, for instance, they’re being led by a charismatic [00:25:00] leader, I don’t know, let’s say somebody from the National Socialist Party in Germany in the 30s, then the entire group of people will run headlong over the edge of a cliff.

Clark: And this is the problem, groupthink when it functions at its best is an incredible thing. And you can see that in the way change happens because large bodies of people, I remember years ago, there was a terrorist attack in, in Spain, in Madrid. The very next day, an enormous group of people, hundreds of thousands of people turned out onto the streets of Madrid.

Clark: And the next day, the prime minister was gone. This is the power of large groups of people. But the dark side of that is that if they all latch onto a mad idea or, for instance, this guy, this lunatic is the best person to run our country. Once they latch onto this idea, bad things happen really quickly.

Clark: So the thing about groupthink is it’s super important because it gets us to achieve things, but there must be somebody there waving a flag. And time to time say we’re governing. Yeah. 

Tony: Yeah. [00:26:00] I’ve experienced it on a personal level, obviously to a far lesser degree than running the country.

Tony: But in a football team, aspirational, full of potential. There was a divisive element within the dressing room led by. A real tyrant who pulled some of the weaker minded individuals into his camp and totally broke everything that we were trying to do from the inside. So that those clicques that form can be incredibly powerful when they’re working for you.

Tony: But when they work against you, I’ve experienced it firsthand. There’s not a lot you can do until you’ve cut it out. And that can sometimes take time and then things have got away from you. But yeah, so I’ve experienced the ugliness Of that and the greatness of it too when it’s working 

Clark: the 

Tony: other way, 

Clark: that’s important to do.

Clark: Whether you agree with the idea of a devil’s advocate or not, I think that one of the most important things when you walk into a situation or a room, changing room or a government cabinet meeting or whatever you need to ask yourself. Where’s the [00:27:00] power in this room?

Clark: And where do they think the power is? And is it the same place? Is the power really where people think it is? And when there’s a problem and you look at that situation it’s also interesting to ask yourself who’s benefiting from this? Because that’s generally where the power is, the real power. Yes.

Clark: He is very often Not necessarily creating the situation, but certainly giving that situation momentum because it serves a purpose for somebody and it takes a very insightful person to be able to go in, see it. As I was saying to somebody recently in a meeting, you can see something, you may think you have clarity in a situation, but do you understand what you’re seeing?

Clark: What it means, and where this thing’s headed. And then, as you just said, what do you do about it? Because going up against a tribe is no easy task. Somebody was talking to me recently about a wave back in the 20s and 30s when things were really difficult in America and Britain, there were people being tarred and feathered for their beliefs over certain things with regards to war and politics and so on.

Clark: For a group of people to tar and feather somebody, Takes to me an unusual [00:28:00] pathology mental pathology, almost a group of people and clearly that’s not an easy thing to stand up against, and even if people see what you’re saying, they won’t necessarily do anything about it because the fear of going up against that is enormous.

Tony: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Getting ostracized is a horrible thing for some people. Some people love it. I can’t. I’d rather go along knowing I’m doing the wrong thing, but staying attached than standing up for myself. There’s an amazing again, I’m thinking back to the situation, the football situation that I was in that I get an amazing feeling of I don’t even try and describe the emotion, but when I think of the odd one or two that we’re able to break away from that and show who they really were at their core. I get this sense. It’s not pride. It’s not a pride thing, but it’s certainly respect and acknowledgement, for the strength of character that they had to do that. Cause these are young men that did this, they were teetering on that.

Tony: Do I go down the wrong path or not? And to see them come through that and be better [00:29:00] men for doing it 

Clark: Was amazing. Here’s the thing, Tony. I was thinking, and this is why I’m really fascinated, and this is why I love these conversations, because as I said in my post yesterday, I run around poking things with a stick.

Clark: As Rob has said plenty of times, I light fires, and then I walk off. And for me, the most important thing is that people like you guys then do something about that. And it’s not this whole idea of being a devil’s advocate or standing up to the devil. The idea of group think doesn’t necessarily take one sort of person whilst it’s interesting to get somebody that can challenge those ideas.

Clark: It then requires other people to push and give the change momentum. I was talking to a young man a few days ago who was extremely frustrated at the fact that he never gets listened to. And he was trying to make some changes within an organization that he’s a part of. He said, nobody listens to me.

Clark: And he was becoming frustrated to the point that he was thinking of giving up. And what I said to him [00:30:00] was look, people like you, and you’ve just said about, some of these people that have a strength of character that’s very clear to see. And that needs to be fostered. And I think it’s people like you guys. That are really good at that. 

Clark: You’re both teachers, trainers, mentors, wherever you want to call yourselves. But you clearly foster this idea of having the self belief that belief and self strength of character to stand up for what you believe in. And I was saying to this young lad, be patient, not with them, with yourself.

Clark: You can’t solve everything and you certainly can’t do it overnight. But what you need to do is not give up because over time you will start to figure out strategies for getting your message across to people and you will start to figure out which battles to get involved in and which ones to avoid.

Clark: Really the key is people like you guys. Who are all about, you talk about relationships and that you’re work in business, Tony, but really, to me, it’s all about fostering that strength of character that helps people to stand up to those times when we all decide on a really stupid idea.

Tony: Look, I say it a lot where I’ll talk to a group of [00:31:00] leaders who, on the surface, get on really well, no problems here, we’re all good, and they’re living in a fantasy land because, on the face of it, they are getting along fine. But they’re not saying what needs to be said, they’re still going out under pressure doing, falling back to making sure they’ve protected themselves and it becomes a bit sycophantic and self serving.

Tony: So I’m going in and I’m not going to rock the boat. And sometimes it’s values driven out of a sense of duty or it’s unhealthy because they go out carrying the weight of that additional burden with them. I didn’t say what I wanted to say out of a sense of duty, but I now have to, I have to carry it around myself because it’s eating away at me.

Tony: I don’t really agree with what I’ve just agreed to. It’s time to have a different conversation, and that’s not easy for people to make those changes. But the power of doing it and the benefit to everybody of them doing it is palpable. It’s enormous. So it has to be done.

Tony: Otherwise, I tend to think that all of these people are leaving those meetings carrying a burden that they wish they didn’t [00:32:00] have because they didn’t say what they needed to say what they thought, whether it’s because of the consequence of doing so may be perceived as being negative. What will happen if the next promotion comes up?

Tony: And I’ve said this thing that seems to counter what? The big boys have been saying, it’s come on, we’re better than that. That’s what I think we should be, but we’re not because this happens over and over again. And that’s what fascinates me. That’s what keeps me 

Rob: interested. That might be what makes the change.

Rob: The old model was mass production. Everyone agrees. When you were talking Clark about the wisdom of crowds where everyone votes and that’s replicable. They do it now with smarties and they’ve done it with jelly tots and all these kinds of things, and the average of everyone always comes out to what it is.

Rob: And it reminds me of something as well. When you look at attraction, what we class as beauty is. If you took everyone’s face in a society and with software, you mould it to be the complete average. That’s what we [00:33:00] call the most beautiful. Beauty is the average of features. It’s not having anything that stands out too much, so that when you are talking about that group thing, it comes to mind that what you clarified is that what political parties do is they wave a flag that people can attract or repel. Groupthink is mindlessly following someone. It’s the diversity of ideas. I was listening to rebel ideas by Matthew Syed and it’s brilliant book, which is really about this is about how we need diversity. But it’s the type of diversity that’s really important and not being rooted in one culture, not being rooted in one set of ideas. But it seems to me that everyone has to be themselves now. 

Rob: Like you were saying, Tony, conflict is the key skill. Conflict is still, biologically stressful. It creates fight or flight. So we don’t really say what we mean.

Rob: We lose access to our full thinking ability, but everyone needs to have that safety and that trusted [00:34:00] to say what they want without being penalized. And then when we do that, we can find the average. And then just in saying that I’m thinking that we all have diverse experiences, diverse views.

Rob: And we all share them quite openly but eventually through it, I think we all improve our general sense. And we walk away with a different view because we’ve been challenged by such diversity. And it gives us just a different view. And I think generally that’s what people need. This is what we need.

Rob: This is what the new model will become. 

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