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…

How Groupthink Can Get You

How Groupthink Can Get You In the last post, you wanted to generate out-of-the-box ideas but were shot down. You left the meeting feeling vaguely bad, perhaps because your idea never got off the ground. Perhaps, but a much more powerful force had probably doomed your idea from the start: Groupthink. What is Groupthink? Groupthink is the tendency of a group to hold the same opinions and views. Sometimes that’s good. For something straightforward, it’s very helpful. But this technique is primarily about efficiency–completing the task using the fewest resources in the least time. Unfortunately, organizations are addicted to groupthink and apply it indiscriminately. In our example, the group was aiming for effectiveness–the right solution–not one generated in record time with the fewest people thinking. Did You Have a Better Idea? You may not have, but the key thing is it was never seriously considered. Maybe the Executive Committee really is looking for radical solutions or wants a way into new technology. Because nobody knew exactly what was wanted, a better approach would have been to float both ideas.Why didn’t this happen? Groupthink narrows the options Jeff, perhaps unconsciously but certainly cleverly, uses what researchers have found to be common in groupthink….

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…