WHAT WE THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT.
This morning I was remembering a section of Malcomb Gladwell’s The Tipping Point about group dynamics. Honestly, I am not sufficiently motivated to look it up, so I am going from memory here. But I remember that the number seven was very significant.
He talked about the fact that phone numbers were seven digits. Seems that people can memorize up to seven digits (or seven of anything else) without grouping or using mnemonics. Beyond seven, they have to have acronyms, mnemonic devices, visualization tricks, or groupings of sets containing seven or fewer. Seems to be a hardwired thing in our brains. It’s almost universal.
Seems that families with more than five children (plus two parents) tend to break into multiples. For example, a family with nine children will typically have primary group relationships among the eldest five and the two parents, and among the younger four, the parents, and one of the older children (often remembered as a “second mom”). Sets of seven.
Quaker meetings (or was it shaker…or was it mennonite?…or was it Amish?) are permitted to grow to fifty people (seven times seven, plus one), before splitting and forming two meetings. Very organic! Works like this…seven primary groups…the “leaders” of each forming a group of seven…with one extra (they probably don’t really like the extra that much, but who wants to be legalistic?).
Gore Corporation (the people who brought us Goretex, and a bunch of other cool stuff) was famous for dividing itself into autonomous, entrepreneurial groups of fifty or less. Each group had access to all of the technology the company owned (including new technologies the company was developing). Each group was responsible for using that technology to develop products and create strategies for those products. Each group was expected to “live” on the proceeds from the products it developed.
We have seven days in a week. Always have as far as I know. This is ancient, and consistent across cultures. The first six, God worked. The seventh He rested. It’s the number of perfection.