The Tyranny of Consensus: Why Flying Solo is Often Best

More often than not it’s the one lone instrument, person, human that senses something that no one else does.

So if you show up in an organization and you want to allow everyone to actually be able to sense and contribute to that organization’s evolution we need to make sure you have a reliable way to give everyone a voice without getting stuck in what I call the tyranny of consensus.  To do that let me use a metaphor to point out what you’re looking for because it’s very easy to get stuck as soon as you try to give everyone a voice.


The metaphor is a true story from own past.  I have a private pilot’s license and when I was first learning to fly my first cross country solo flight I'm in the plane alone, no instructor and I'm flying hundreds of miles away and just ten minutes into my journey the low voltage light comes on, on my control panel and when you’re a novice pilot they don’t teach you much about the hardware.  I had no idea what that really meant.  I can guess.  But what did I do?  Well my instinct was I checked every other instrument in the control panel one by one.  The air speed indicator says you’re not losing speed, there is no problem, everything is fine.  The altimeter not losing height, everything is fine, no problem at all.  The navigation aid, you’re perfectly on course, nothing to worry about.  Everything other instrument on my dashboard said there is no problem.  So what did I do?  I let those instruments outvote the low voltage light and I said it must not be a big problem, I'm going to ignore it.  So I kept flying and ignored the low voltage light.

I nearly crashed the plane that day.  It was a terrible decision.  The last thing you want to do is ignore one of your key instruments sensing something that no other instrument is. And yet, I realized when I got on the ground this is what we do in organizations all the time.  We show up at organizations and we become the sensors, the instruments sensing that organization’s reality and more often than not it’s the one lone instrument, person, human that senses something that no one else does. And yet, we see arguments like well I don’t see it as if that’s a valid reason to dismiss what somebody else does see.  So what we actually want to do when I'm flying that plane though is not try to take into account every instrument all the time.

If I stared at my dashboard while flying I’d probably crash.  What I want to do is not integrate everything every instrument has to say.  What I want to do is integrate the minimally sufficient perspectives at every moment in time to keep that plane flying towards its purpose and I think the same is true in organizations.  We want to give everybody a voice, but not for the sake of satisfying their own ego, for the sake of helping the organization keep flying towards its purpose.  So we don’t want to integrate everything everyone brings all the time.  We want to rapidly sort through and get to the minimally sufficient so that we keep the plane or the organization flying towards its purpose.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

26 ultra-rich people own as much as the world's 3.8 billion poorest

The Oxfam report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency."

Getty Images and Wikimedia Commons
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new report by Oxfam argues that wealth inequality is causing poverty and misery around the world.
  • In the last year, the world's billionaires saw their wealth increase by 12%, while the poorest 3.8 billion people on the planet lost 11% of their wealth.
  • The report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency." We explain what Steven Pinker's got to do with it.
Keep reading Show less

People who constantly complain are harmful to your health

Moans, groans, and gripes release stress hormones in the brain.

Photo credit: Getty Images / Stringer
popular

Could you give up complaining for a whole month? That's the crux of this interesting piece by Jessica Hullinger over at Fast Company. Hullinger explores the reasons why humans are so predisposed to griping and why, despite these predispositions, we should all try to complain less. As for no complaining for a month, that was the goal for people enrolled in the Complaint Restraint project.

Participants sought to go the entirety of February without so much as a moan, groan, or bellyache.

Keep reading Show less
Videos
  • Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
  • Creating a more connected world and indexing the world's information: what could be better than that?
  • But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
Keep reading Show less