Beware Groupthink!-lightscape

Business On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger blasted off from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. Seventy-three seconds later, millions of people watched as the rocket disintegrated in a fiery explosion, and the capsule plunged into the Atlantic Ocean. The death of all seven crew members, and particularly teacher Christa McAuliffe, shocked the world. As we learned in the months that followed, the tragedy could and should have been avoided. The root cause of the disaster was something known as Groupthink. Groupthink did not exist before 1972! Irving Janis, a social psychologist focusing on the political arena, was puzzled by the inability of otherwise very clever and intelligent people to make sound decisions, and in fact their tendency to make ones that sometimes created disastrous results. His answer was a condition he termed Groupthink. What is Groupthink and how to spot it Groupthink is a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive, task-centred group, when their need for unanimity supersedes the need to make a decision based on rational information. Groupthink can lead to bad judgments and decisions being made, and can also cause a group of decision makers to rationalise a poor decision after the fact. It’s a simple and totally inadequate way to deal with difficult issues. While discord and conflict among individuals is one major pitfall among decision-makers, Groupthink is equally dangerous. Group cohesiveness is a good quality and something all groups need to strive for, but Groupthink takes this cohesiveness to the extreme. One Shine Consulting client recently said to me "It’s terrifying to see how people all line up behind the key influencers [in this team] without ever questioning the decision, or the basis on which the decision is being put forward". Groupthink happens frequently when a group is under pressure to make a decision. Ironically this happens in organisations at the most crucial time – often when strategic decisions need to be made to satisfy corporate leaders or shareholders. Hence the total incredulity often seen when strategy decisions are ".municated" down the line to those not on the decision-making body but closer to the facts! How to avoid Groupthink If any of the above situations strikes a chord with you in your organisation, there are a number of actions you can take to avoid Groupthink: 1. Notice when Groupthink is happening and point it out to the group – both its causes and consequences 2. If you’re going against the group it helps to make this explicit by saying something like, "this may annoy some of you but…/I know this is going against the way we are thinking at the moment but..". You are much more likely to be heard sympathetically rather than ganged up on by the group trying to maintain its path 3. Ahead of time, appoint one of the group members to play "devil’s advocate" and to challenge the group, looking for flaws in logic, false inferences and overlooked information 4. Test your thinking. Get out of your cocoon and ask questions of those who will be impacted by the group’s decisions. Pick up the phone, call a customer, or walk around and get a reality check! Encouraging feedback on what worked and what didn’t about previous decisions will also help keep your feet on the ground. Ask group members to get feedback from their own constituents before a final decision is made 5. Create one or more independent decision-making groups with different leaders to work on the same critical issue or policy, then bring the sub-groups together to hammer out differences of data, assumptions and solutions 6. Get the group to make a formal presentation (including their data, assumptions and conclusions) to its leader (and possibly to his/her manager too). Have the group evaluate the decision-making process as part of the presentation 7. The leader should avoid stating preferences and expectations at the outset. Doing so creates pressure for others to agree 8. As a leader, encourage dissent and alternative .ments. Remind everyone that open and frank .munication is essential to good decision making and a healthy culture 9. If the decision is particularly important, or you think your decision-making process needs a fresh pair of eyes, ask a facilitator a) to be a fly on the wall and give feedback to the group or b) to lead the group through the process It was Mark Twain who humbly stated: "Between me and God we have all knowledge. God knows all there is to know, and I know the rest." About the Author: specialise in individual, team and leadership development in .anisations whose leaders want people to thrive and to produce results well beyond the predictable. Shine works with individuals, teams and leaders who are frustrated that they are not achieving the results they know they should be, to surface and resolve permanently the underlying issues and help them produce outstanding results. Article Published On: 相关的主题文章:

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