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Groupthink

  Recently I encountered a term called “Groupthink” when I edited a file. I was not sure what it means, so I googled the term and found its definition as follows: the act or practice of reasoning or decision-making by a group, especially when characterized by uncritical acceptance or conformity to prevailing points of view.

 

Obviously, Groupthink is not beneficial to the growth of a company, because it easily leads to poor decision. However, this phenomenon actually is possibly occurred in such companies where (1) the group cohesiveness is very strong, (2) the authoritative leadership is overwhelming, (3) the group members are unaware of or isolated from the external information; (4) the decision-making process is lack of logic and proper judgment; (5) the background and value of the group members are similar; (6) the pressure from the external environment is great and the time for decision making is limited; (7) the members are not confident that they can find a better solution than the leaders because the leaders are very influential; (8) the members are in low spirits because they just suffered a failure.

 

As we all know, a company cannot become stronger without change. We need different ideas rather than a uniform idea. Different ideas can help us to discover the shortcomings, refine the solution, and correct the mistakes. To break up the Groupthink, we need encourage a “speaking out” culture and establish safe ways for speaking out.

 

Sometimes we hesitate or refuse to speak out because it may leave us somewhat embarrassed by presenting different ideas. The people who speak out may get a reputation of making trouble, so they have to stop doing it. To avoid making themselves in trouble or different from others, they just agree what the others said without presenting their own ideas. Therefore, the foremost way to create a “speaking out” culture is creating a reliable environment in which people can find their own safe way to speak out.

 

The safe ways to speak out include sending anonymous email, using anonymous hotline, setting up an ideas box, conducting a one-to-one meeting, etc. In all, only if they will never be isolated from the others or retaliated against for speaking out could people are willing to speak out.

 

Groupthink easily leads to creating an illusion of “highly coherent team”. In fact, such a coherent team possibly makes a poor group decision because the team members fail to bring a variety of differing perspectives to bear. Therefore, from now on, let’s say no to groupthink and encourage speak out.

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