Now we focus in on the heart of breakthrough psychology, the idea of abnorming – born out of my eventual realisation that no theory, no matter how cool, could explain all that we are.
This is the key reason why I’ve bothered to learn about so many of the great ideas in psychology – and to keep them in my back pocket. You never know when they’ll come in handy!
Let me know your thoughts!
It was in the area of structure that we favoured the idea of co-creation and developed the principles and techniques for abnorming. I had long believed that people’s potential was determined more by the circumstances they found themselves in and their pathway towards those circumstances than by their innate creativity or intelligence. I don’t believe that either of these two capabilities, much favoured by experts & elites are fixed qualities that have been doled out in rations between us! There are just too many examples of people accomplishing exceptional things (often in exceptional circumstances) for any other explanation to make sense. Not just exceptional good things either: if you read the coverage about the policeman who ‘truncheoned’ Ian Tomlinson to the ground, you’ll find his creative interpretation of Mr Tomlinson’s ‘aggressive behaviour’ quite imaginative and his mixing of ‘towards’ with ‘away from’ equally inventive. The policeman said under oath that Tomlinson was approaching the police line aggressively, while the video shows him walking away.
I suspect too, that in the Courts of Justice there is an epidemic of everyday lying that illustrates huge resources of creativity and confabulation available to the ordinary man when the chips are down!
I will return to the damning ideas of special talents, elites and ‘gifted’ people again as I discuss our experiences of Breakthrough Zones in future posts.
We must also take up the topic of everyday lying and distortion so well demonstrated by this video and the policeman’s story. What if lying – or at least confabulation (making up explanations/rationalisations on the spur of the moment) – is the standard procedure in ordinary focus groups and interviews? Surely that means that for many clients getting the ‘reportage’ of what was said in the session is the booby prize!
To return to our theme: how could we create the sort of circumstances in which accomplishing the exceptional became the norm?
From years of brainstorming and facilitating new ideas sessions, I had discovered the faults of brainstorming methods: I found myself in agreement with the synopsis given by Keith Sawyer in his excellent, ‘Group Genius’. Here Keith outlines the three reasons why brainstorming groups are less creative than impromptu groups (called Nominal Groups in the classic Osborn study):
- Social Inhibition
- Production Blocking
- Social Loafing
I will return to each of these – and what you can do about them in the Tips section. In summary, you may be starting to gather that I think that many of the conventional ideas about human beings and what happens to them when they get together are simply wrong. To test the validity of any widely promoted idea (like intelligence, talent, expertise) you need to consider who benefits most from these ideas, allow for the experimenter effect and include the value of the ideas in maintaining the status quo. Each of these three ideas appear to limit the potential for the rest of us when compared to the best of us. We can thank reality TV for beginning the process of dismantling these shibboleths.
Have a lovely weekend!