It is easier to kill than to create

We probably all feel that we spent too much time in meetings, especially the death march meeting that trundles onward to its inevitable demise. Meetings for me are an abattoir for the mind. They are where good ideas make their final stand before they are euthanized by collective groupthink.

I think that any group of people can fall under the spell of groupthink. It could be the fixed gear bicycle crowd or the hipster artists. It’s easy to be snared; the nice thing about groupthink is that you don’t have to think as hard. There is the security that if you think like the group then you are one of us. There isn’t a hidden manifesto of rules or secret handshake, what erodes independent thinking is simply peer pressure.

So this is the dilemma within the library profession as I see it. Most of us did not fit in and eventually found ourselves working in libraries. Where (surprise) we did fit. We found a group of like-minded professionals that we could relate to and had similar values and maybe similar ideals. So we have all the ingredients for groupthink. The ALA bill of rights is a pretty good example of shared values and perhaps groupthink.

Not all collective thinking is bad. It gives us our laws and a structure in which to operate. I do think that groupthink is toxic when you are in the idea and innovation game. It is far easier to kill another person’s idea than it is to create your own. Especially if that idea is counter to the group’s belief system.

We need these independent thinkers within the library profession. These are the ones that tell us the world is not flat. They tell us that vinyl records as a format is dead and by the way, so is paper. So rather than burning these voices at the virtual stake or lashing them with sarcastic comments, think about preserving them.

These are quiet voices hidden in alleyways of the Internet. Voices you have to seek out, voices that are hidden and are really going to challenge you. Can you meet that challenge? Do you have the courage to step outside the belief system of your peers?

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