Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Courtroom or a Concert?

What is the difference between a courtroom and a concert?

A courtroom is a place where people are being questioned for holes in their argument, for inconsistencies in their stories. People attend expecting not to believe one side or the other. It is a place where for the most part people's minds are made up, and it will take a very powerful argument or some remarkable new evidence to change an opinion. The person speaking is either the accused or the witness, and the person asking questions is the defense or the prosecution. Courtrooms, I can imagine, are rather stressful environments. People probably don't get up in the morning excited about going to court.

A concert, however, is a place where people go to expect to hear and be a part of something they will enjoy. They go to be transported by their thoughts, to be taken back to meaningful moments in their past and to hear some new things that they fully expect to love. Everyone is united in their appreciation of the person speaking or singing, and that person is energised by this openness and desire from the audience to participate in a transforming event. The person speaking or singing is an artist, someone who brings a unique message or delivery to an idea, and the people attending are expecting to enjoy themselves. Concerts, for the most part, are exciting and appreciative environments. People do get up in the morning excited about going to a concert.

Someone might say that the purposes of the two are different - courtrooms are there to make important decisions that affect people's lives. However, aren't concerts similarly generative gatherings? How many artists and authors, and people generally have been inspired by music? How many people have been buoyed to action by music?What comes out of concerts is often joy, thoughtfulness, creativity and inspiration.

If I was going to run an important meeting, which environment would I want to create? How would I want my participants and speakers to feel when they left the room? What would I want people to get out of it? Would it be a zero sum gain, or would it be a step of a creative, hopeful process? When I sent out my next invitation for the group to meet again, what would be people's reactions? Would they be excited that their favorite group was holding a concert again? Or would they dread the eyes of the jury?

1 comment:

Cecilia said...

It’s hard to believe that it’s someone’s intention to wish that participants leave a meeting as if they were leaving a court. It might be that the organisers are just caught up in a conventional mould and do not allow themselves to act differently. This attitude will not give them the opportunity to reflect on their behaviour. Others play the same game because they want to feel part of the group. There’s probably also a feeling of power that they don’t want to let go.

On the other hand, to create the feeling of having attended a concert; ie being energised, inspired, relaxed, it’s probably not an easy thing to do in a working atmosphere. You would first have to be creative and feel the need and have the energy to do things differently; ie, create a new environment to encourage staff to express themselves fully. This might be easier to do for someone new, who has a fresh mind and is not playing power games. This is probably a risky challenge but worth the try.