Sometimes The Pack is Wrong

Airplane Wing

Bittersweet Symphony” played by the Vitamin String Quartet based on the Original by The Verve 🎵

You’ll have to pardon me, Dear Reader.

Unlike the world’s most boring show Bridgerton where women’s only goal is to get married and nothing bad ever happens so their author can write all the time, I came down with Covid-19. I barely feel up to writing.

I never promised I’d always write about architecture (more often I write about leadership)…sometimes I just write.

In my delirium I saw that Season 3 is out – I tried to watch it, and I still found the show incredibly boring. I can imagine if Lady Whistledown (Penelope Featherington) ever got Covid-19 her writing would take a dark turn with some kind of sign off like “Y’all as a pack are not worth the effort of penning your names” which she’d scribble out in ink while drowning in mucus and the other 2938492734897 symptoms this virus has.

I imagine she would finally achieve my dream of her gifting her pen to Queen Charlotte, the only interesting person in the show besides Lady Danbury and together, Lady Danbury and the Queen would write far more hilarious material about only their escapades.

This brings me to – I’ve flown twice in the last 2 months – the first time I masked and didn’t catch anything. I can with 11 9s of confidence share that I caught this dumb virus from the airport by not masking.

Because I followed the pack.

Sometimes the pack is wrong.

No one is wearing masks anymore. While that may (or may not?) work well for them, it certainly did not work well for me. It reminds me how difficult it can feel to go against the grain even when your own well-being is on the line.

While it may feel weird to be the person who chooses to do something different, be it wear a mask in an airport of maskless people or question the silence in an all hands as something more than that, we need people who go against the pack because the pack isn’t always right.

Sometimes the pack wants things to have changed, to be different, to be better than it is absent anything that has indicated it is actually better. Sometimes the pack has to pretend things are better than they are because it is the only way to progress. But these approaches cause a disconnect between what is really happening, what people are still expieriencing, and a chasm of unaddressed issues.

Sometimes the pack wants things to move faster than it can or falsifies the promised land of the efficiency gains today (e.g. some AI tools). Sometimes the pack wants movements to be bigger than they really are absent quantitative business opportunity at that scale (e.g. the metaverse).

When that happens it is often those who go against the pack who choose to address what they are experiencing themselves because they have to – they have to so the void stops growing and those they care about are not consumed by it. We so often push for standardization and defragmentation of tools, technologies, and processes in our roles – that we readily apply that mission everywhere not realizing that in some cases, too much sameness creates its own kind of danger. This is especially true if that sameness is coming from a place of defiant belief that “this way is the one right way” in environments where viruses, a metaphor for anything that changes faster than we can, mutate faster than those beliefs keep up with — or the standards of yesterday, going back to the status quo because it felt good, are now holding people back.

Since I’m too tired to barely etch out a thought, I will leave you, simply, with one, Dear Reader.

We don’t have to move with the pack when we think the pack may actually be doing something unsafe – no matter who the leader of that pack is, or the loudest voice in the room. We only have to have a high degree of confidence, based on having listened and lived, that we might need to choose otherwise and make the right small step in that direction, even if it takes others a lot longer to catch up.

Header Image by Nils Nedel from Unsplash.

Update on the Puzzle: I’ve now shared 15 clues so I wanted to take a pause (no clue in this post) to remind what they are for. In each blog post where there is a clue listed – all clues point toward a famous quote. From the original first clue post, “To guess it, you’ll have to share in an adventure. Same terms as Alan’s – For the first person to guess correctly by end of year, I’ll donate $250 to their preferred US 501c3 charity. If not, I’ll donate to mine :). You can guess by sending me a DM, text, Discord, or a LinkedIn Message/comment.”