Mahatma Ghandi once said, “I must go now, for there go my people and I am their leader.” No doubt, Ghandi was a leader and yet, the so-called wisdom of crowds makes me nervous. Can a crowd really know better than one wise guy?
But then there’s the story that designer Christopher Williams tells about an architect who waited for the people to lead. He had designed and built a cluster of office buildings which the landscaper wanted to connect with sidewalks.
“Not yet,” said the architect. “Plant grass.” Within months there were clear pathways between the buildings. Although not straight, these pathways were the most efficient lines of connection. All the landscaper had to do was to pave where the users had shown their need, their preferred paths.
Indeed, sometimes leaders should simply get out of the way so that the people can show their path. But knowing when this is best is always tricky.
Listen to the radio version of Leading on crowded paths (10 most recent radio files)
© 2011 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com