04 Dec '11
Group think and courageous interlopers
It happens on boards, among staff members, in congregations and even among friends: group think. A common opinion or shared course of action even when there is evidence that there is another side, another option or even an elephant in the conversation that is being ignored. But the dynamics of the group and peer pressure prevent people from going there. Sometimes it is easier to just agree and pretend that the elephant is not there.
Enter the interloper - "one who jumps into the midst of things," (Webster) and says, "hmm, wait a minute, what about?, have you thought about?, I think we are possibly missing something here, let's talk about the real issue, there is an elephant we are not willing to discuss so I am going to put it on the table."
This is not an easy role to play and it needs to be played carefully. But it is a necessary role for those who are courageous enough to do it. Disagreeing with group think can be an unpopular role to play and thus needs to be done with grace and humility. But, when there are issues behind the issues that are being ignored for comfort or convenience, someone with courage can do the organization a favor by at least putting it on the table. Once on the table, others may be willing to consider it.
Mature individuals are self defined individuals. They are able and willing to speak their mind without being disagreeable, able to disagree while remaining relationally connected and are not intimidated by being a lone voice with both conviction and humility. They don't have to get their way but they are also not going to ignore issues that are part of the equation. In a word, they are wise without being obnoxious.
Church boards need courageous interlopers from time to time who are willing to press in where others will not go. So do staff teams and even groups of friends. It is not easy but sometimes necessary.