Wednesday, 8 August 2012

The Upside and Downside of Crowds

I recently attended my first big football match.  Team GB versus Republic of Korea at the Millennium Stadium Cardiff.

What struck me, as I reflected afterwards on my experience, was how powerful crowds are.

We keep hearing about how the Team GB athletes are being lifted and supported by the crowds that are filling the various Olympic venues.  However, what I experienced made me realise that there is also a downside to crowds.

As a facilitator of group creativity, I try to ensure that individual voices are heard.  My job is to help create a climate in which people feel able to express their opinion or to share their idea, and I facilitate a process that allows this to happen.  Without a facilitator, a meeting or workshop can easily hide or crush individuals and 'groupthink' can take over.

At the football match, I found myself chanting along with others, joining in the Mexican wave and finding fault with the players and their performance.  It seemed to be what was expected.  I went along with it.  We lost on penalties, and there was a collective, disappointed groan.

On the way home, my 9 year old son looked me in the eye and said, 'Who cares who won?  It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see Team GB in the Olympics in Great Britain.'  The lone voice of truth and reason. 

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