Group Mind and External Perspectives

I’ll preface this by saying I have acted as a course director and small group facilitator regarding teamworking on numerous occasions. In the latter case I have taken well over a dozen small groups of around 9 people through the stages of group formation from ritual sniffing through storming and norming and towards performing. This has been done over a period of up to five days in an intensive manner. In the case of being a course director I have observed group dynamics of up to fifty people over a period of four days. I have designed course materials so as to accelerate the group dynamics. I have held small group tutorials and been responsible for the tutorial system of an entire academic department. I have also “led” a group of people, working with the Toltec teachings for a period of ~ two years.

Based on this I think it fair and probably accurate to state that I have a better grasp of group dynamics that your average erstwhile science academic. Though many scientists might fail to acknowledge that there is any substance to this kind of thing because it cannot be measured with a laser or a detector.

What is striking is that ALL groups develop what I call GROUP MIND. This arises out of the norming process where what is “acceptable” within the group becomes somewhat settled. This group mind metaphorically circles the wagons and defends its norms. It does not and will not accept external perspectives because group mind has a tendency to assume internal omniscience. Norming tends to stop the evolution of a group, or a team. If one wishes to facilitate further development one has to challenge and break the norming cycle which tends toward the lowest common denominator in most cases. If the group becomes too settled it stagnates. The easiest way to facilitate evolution is to become the sacrifice or the enemy. Temporarily the group shifts its focus from being pals and norming, to attack and defence. Nevertheless, it is nigh on impossible to get GROUP MIND to accept any external perspective which strays from or differs even slightly from the pseudo-consensual group norms. Group mind is nearly always more closed than individual mind. Group mind nearly always shoots the messenger. For example, they crucified Jesus, they shot Martin Luther King.

The weird thing is group mind thinks itself justified in so doing!!

Until I left academia, I was unaware of how very arrogant and self-absorbed much of it is. I did not realise how very pompous my colleagues and I were. I had hints because I had interacted with industry. Later I interacted with Oxbridge and noted they assumed I would be grateful for the blessing, the manna from on high. {Hey man I went to the RI which kind of trumps that.}

And now we have a saga of entitlement playing out once again in UK government. A prime minister who imagines himself a statesman is behaving in a very non statesman like manner. His colleague who severely lacks judgement has been caught close to having a full knee trembler on camera and he accepts his apology. Who knows there may be some footage of it up on Pornhub soon? Perhaps he cannot sack his colleague because he too was having it off away whilst in office and giving out contracts. Boys will be boys and have someone play with their toys. This cronyism pervades British life. It is jobs for the boys and girls, the pals. Group mind says it is OK to have an affair so long as you say sorry. If you point out this cronyism and verging on corruption you will be “shot”.

Bah it was just a detail it is not important in the big picture. He said sorry so that is all OK.

There is always a thin end of the wedge, often a threshold after which the slippery slope beckons…