Don’t Be A Lemming

We have a tendency to get swept up in awe of the next big thing. We jump onto the bandwagon and we become zealots. We get caught up in groupthink. And frankly, it’s an interesting phenomenon to watch. It happens all the time.

You can observe it on any given day on a city sidewalk. One person decides it’s safe to walk across the intersection, even though the light hasn’t changed, and all of the sudden you see a group of people mindlessly following along, immune to the dangers of the approaching cabby.

On the flip side, every time I am in the Midwest to visit my clients in either Milwaukee or Minneapolis, I’m stunned at the patience of the group. Everyone standing still waiting for the light to change, despite their not being a car in sight. I always break from the pack. Do it, it is fun to watch the expression of others.

This tendency for us to get caught in groupthink has serious considerations for how we think about and how we approach change in an organization. It also serves as a warning for us not to get caught up in pseudo-science. It teaches us to stay grounded in the research and to understand how applied practice can lead to change.

Don’t be a lemming. In this context, a lemming is a member of any large group following an unthinking course towards destruction. Don’t be fooled by the consultants jargon, their spread sheets, or their PowerPoint magic. They don’t hold a secret sauce. Probe, ask questions and be a bit skeptical at first blush. Play hard to get and make them work for it. Just because it’s been done over and over again, doesn’t mean that it’s right.

Push to see results, ask for impact and correlation. How does doing A impact B, what’s the long term success rate of your interventions? If they start hitting you with fancy terminology, give them they stink eye. They deserve it. There’s an old quote by Harry Truman that goes like this, “if you can’t convince them, confuse them.”

Don’t let them confuse you, don’t fall for the pseudo-science, it’s not worth your effort.

And most of all don’t be a lemming.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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