Turn up the volume

Rowan Atkinson has an important message on free speech and turning up the volume of voices that we might not want to hear. Getting used to hear things that you might not want to hear. Do not silence people. My experience in innovation is no different: groups have the tendency to silence minorities. They do this mostly in very subtle ways. A smart professional will always say that (s)he is open en interested in the other. But most people like people like themselves and don’t like interpersonal tension. So they, mostly unconsciously, make sure that no painful situations will appear with arguments like “I don’t feel safe”. Forgetting that it’s not safe at all for the other person, who dared to deviate. This interaction is complex, and the stronger side will most of the time “win” without the intervention of a facilitator. In my opinion: it should be the competence of the facilitator to hold this tension, to turn up the volume, and not to hide behind procedures. It’s in this interpersonal tension that interesting new insight can develop. I know, this is easier said than done. Almost nobody really likes group tension. We want to do fun stuff. But… we need it our interpersonal differences to innovate.

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