The beauty of small groupthink

It’s been said that groupthink is bad, that the group influences individual opinions and leads to conformity and discourages the free flow of good ideas.  I was recently involved in two group meetings dealing with sticky issues, one last Monday and one tonight.  Group one included eight people trying to put together a schedule and arrange logistics for an important meeting.  Group two included three people tackling several critical issues.  The first group spent about five hours locked in a room, trying to build concensus from a spectrum of opinions.  I left, somewhat disillusioned, long before it ended.  The second group spent 50 minutes tackling equally weighty issues, and with razor-like precision, the three of us resolved all outstanding issues–and more. 
There’s a lot to be said about small groups working through tough issues.  Having large groups with many stakeholders who need to have their say and forging concensus is a bit overrated.

Being someone else

I’m sitting here typing at a colleague’s work station in Shanghai, someone I’ve never met.  We’re on a work exchange.  We swapped jobs for a couple of weeks.  Right now he is probably at my home in Seoul after a day at work sitting at my desk, working on work I would normally do.  I’m doing work he does here in Shanghai.  I will soon walk back to his home where I am staying for a couple of weeks.  It’s an radical sensation when you feel like you’re living someone else’s life.  For a brief moment in time, we will glimpse each others’ lives.  We don’t really know what it’s like to actually be someone else, but still we’re immersed in a different reality than our own. 
His life here in Shanghai isn’t too shabby–I’m doing my best not to clutter it up with junk.  I wonder what he thinks of mine, especially since he doesn’t have any children.  I can tell our personalities are different, so who knows what he’ll think after living my life for a couple of weeks.  He lives a DINKs lifestyle (double-income, no kids), whereas my life is built around child rearing.  Maybe it will be enlightening.  I doubt he will play with play dough or drink juice boxes.  If his wife becomes pregnant in the next couple of months, I will definitely wonder whether she became enamored by all the children’s toys laying around the house.  His life has certainly been enlightening to me.  I’d forgotten what it was like not to have any children.
If nothing else, it’s been fun.  Trying exchanging your life with someone else for a change.  It’s pretty cool!