Should You Fight Groupthink? Usually No.

Should You Fight Groupthink? Usually No. Since groupthink tends to support the status quo and is relatively unfriendly to innovation, isn’t it your duty as an employee of the company to fight it? Certainly, companies need innovation, even if they’re not very good at it (my book). You can count on the fingers of one hand CEOs who say, “No, no—new thinking is not welcome here.” So companies need to minimize groupthink to maximize new ideas. But while it`s good for the company, is it good for you?  Not necessarily You’d hope that suggesting a really innovative idea would have your co-workers hailing you as the new Einstein. Well, might happen but equally possibly, they`ll spend the time explaining why it won`t work. But because you’re so enthusiastic, you keep pushing. If you do it long enough, you might experience an odd phenomenon. The group may see you as generating conflict by your continued persistence insistence. Groups tend not to like and even ostracize those who rock the boat and will often interpret it as a personal failing (“She’s so hard to get along with”) rather than an effort to help the group operate more effectively. Even if they adopt…

Can You Prevent Groupthink? Maybe.

Can You Prevent Groupthink? Maybe. Groupthink is a powerful but unseen force in organizations. In our example, you were wise to consider how you would be perceived by the group and it probably didn’t matter that you went along with the majority. But what if the outcome had been really important? Or if you were sure you had the right answer? How could you discourage groupthink to open up the discussion? Below are ways to handle the most common groupthink. Groupthink symptom What you can do Confirmation bias. A group only considers information supporting what it has already decided is true. You can call the group on its actions. “I wonder if we should slow down a bit to be sure we consider all possibilities. Jessica had a good point. Could you repeat it?”   Information cascade. As more people believe, the idea’s legitimacy increases and the desire for other solutions falls.[1] Again, bring the group’s attention to its behavior. “Whoa. I think Dan’s idea has great potential but Beth, you’re the expert in systems architecture. Do you think Dan’s idea will fly?”   False consensus effect. Overestimating the commonness of your beliefs and undervaluing opposing views.[2] “I don’t know…

Thinking No, Saying Yes–Groupthink in Action

Thinking No, Saying Yes-Groupthink in Action You work in a large document shredding company. The company needs a new strategic direction because businesses now post confidential documents to secure sites. The President’s note to staff asked for out-of-the-box ideas. Your chance for profile Your Director was attending these meetings but the baby came early and you`re her replacement. You have a great idea you can`t wait to table. Everybody at the meeting is more senior than you. It’s a bit daunting but also an ideal opportunity to get air time in front of managers who could promote you. The Director of Ops, Jeff, is chairing. The first groupthink technique Jeff: Let’s get started. Welcome, Steph. At the last meeting, we pretty much agreed to a new fleet of trucks to pick up both recycling and documents for shredding. Somebody: Yeah, the way to go. (general murmur of agreement) You speak up But you happen to be looking at Max, the only person you know, who has a troubled look and isn’t nodding. Makes you think that maybe it isn’t a done deal. You: There might be another option. The company already has the confidence of its clients. Why not a…

Getting Harmony and Teamness Right

Your group didn’t get a report in on time and you need to figure out why. You want to challenge the assumption that the most important thing is getting along or teamness.Raising the issue with Megan and Jean won’t be an easy conversation but it’s necessary. YOU: So, guys, I wanted to talk about the report not going out last week. Expect avoidance Jean: But it went the Tuesday after so no harm done. YOU:  I’d like to discuss why it didn’t go on Friday. Expect sniping Megan: (undertone) Because the data weren’t there. Jean: I heard that! YOU: Let’s stick to the issue. Jean, you didn’t get the data to Megan on Wednesday. Why? Jean: I wanted to make it right. YOU: Megan needed it. Expect defensiveness Jean: Crummy research can’t go out! YOU: But what could you have done? Jean: Huh? Suggest solutions the first time YOU: Why not tell Megan you were going to be late? Jean: She knew when it didn’t arrive. Megan:  I needed a heads up. Jean: Wouldn’t have made a difference. YOU: But you two might have worked something to meet the deadline with good data. Jean: She could have called any time….

Harmony Gone Wrong

Harmony Gone Wrong What happened? In the last post, you returned after a week off to find that an important report didn’t go out. You thought you could have counted on Megan. You need to talk to her. Talk to Megan After discussions about the state of your father’s health, you get down to brass tacks. You Skype her. YOU: I was disappointed the report wasn’t finished on time. Megan: I sent you what I could. I didn’t have all the data. YOU: Did you bug Jean? She’s not great about deadlines. Megan: Every day. Wednesday, she said she’d do it but it didn’t come in time. YOU: Why didn’t you call me? Megan: I didn’t want to bother you. After all, your father and all. YOU: You could have left a message. Megan: I guess so. YOU: Come on, Megan, what’s really going on? Megan: (sigh) Jean’s a nice person, I didn’t want to get her into trouble. YOU: But that meant we didn’t meet our deadline. Megan: Well, I knew it would be better for you to talk to her as you’re the boss. Why didn’t Megan call you? Here is an example of where keeping harmony in…