The Brink of Chaos

Threshhold of Relevance & Group Action

Threshhold of Relevance & Group Action

It’s interesting that people essentially don’t take notice of certain things until someone else mentions it to them. This ties into the example that shows up in both Blink and Influence about the woman who was stabbed three different times over some time with over 30 witnesses not one of whom called the police until after she was dead. Essentially, when people are in situations in which they are uncertain, they look around them to see how others are behaving. The problem is that since they are all looking for someone else to indicate that there is a problem, no one does anything.

But this principle doesn’t only apply in times of emergency or in times of uncertainty, it also applies to actions that people would like to take, but don’t always notice or think to take. For example, people generally want to reach out to those around them, but it doesn’t always occur to them to do it, until someone decides to take initiative toward starting the action. Say a friend is sick and could use meals made for their family, it may not occur to people on their own to do something like this; however, if someone makes mention of it, suddenly others also want to take part. Something needs to raise the need to their threshold of relevance (where something suddenly becomes noticed consciously).

Thus the importance of leaders who can initiate. Leaders need to have a threshold of relevance that can help provide focus – they also need to be listening to the relevant points of their team as no one’s threshold is sufficient. Finally, we all need to consider how to make sure we are accurately assessing situations in which no one is doing anything but we should be – could make all of the difference.

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