The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

When it’s time to decide

As a member of a group, we committed ourselves to that group.

By joining a group we are expected to acknowledge and accept its rules, its norms, and its values. It is a way of saying that we belong to that group. The members of the group become people like us and all of them join in, in doing the things that group does. What it does is usually linked to the objective of the group and how it invites its members to signal that they belong.

Usually, this is pretty straightforward. When joining a tennis club for example, then it is linked to the love of the game of tennis. Members are expected to be able to talk about tennis, whatever their objective may have been.

This works well, as long as the group doesn’t mix interests.

Take for example a training. Some of the participants joined to learn the subject. Others joined because they belong to a group of practitioners who work with each other to achieve certification. Yet others joined because they have been told to join. These three subgroups will want to work at a different speed and will be seeking to learn in different ways. The first group will be asking questions sticking to the subject. The second group will be asking questions helping them to connect the dots with their certification and the third group will be more interested in understanding why they are participating.

These differences create tension as all the participants seek to align with one another while at the same time assuming that their learning is the one everyone is seeking.

When the tension grows, the participants will start to search for the leader, for someone who enforces the groups’ norms and values. When a leader steps up ad does so, he’s confronted with the individual views. It’s the moment in which the individuals review their alignment with the group. It’s when they verify their sense of belonging.

Belonging to a group doesn’t necessarily mean agreement with the group as it is.

It’s when tension appears, that the members question themselves.




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