There is something worse than the confirmation bias that we talked about in the last email. It is GROUPTHINK.
Groupthink occurs when the whole group, in valuing cohesiveness, starts to think in a biased and restricted way. Sometimes groups start to think along certain lines and once this is established the subsequent conversations, reasoning and decision making become more and more in line with that type of thinking. As the group wants to feel united and minimise the discomfort of conflict, they tend to ignore and exclude dissenting voices and information.
Groupthink discourages healthy team dynamics by minimising healthy conflict and open discussion. It also leads to decision making based on one-sided arguments.
How to minimise groupthink?
Have a diversity of people in your team. This will bring different perspectives to the same issues.
Appreciate people playing the “devil’s advocate” role. Some need to be asking the difficult questions and challenge the thinking of the group. Although, at times, groups may not appreciate these people and see them as being obstructionist, their role is vital.
Make sure the group is looking at both sides of the argument.
Don’t allow the group to be overcome by hubris. If the group has had a series of wins they may become overconfident and start cutting critical thinking corners. “We are the Winners” hype may lead to groupthink.
Don’t villainise opposing voices. Some groups and organisations reject the input of dissenters, even taking steps to remove them from the group. There are two disadvantages to this. One is that the lone alternative voice is no longer heard and the other is that it will also discourage other members from voicing objections for fear of rejection.
Have you seen a group make poor decisions based on groupthink?
How does your group or organisation handle various opinions?
“May we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.”
Dwight D Eisenhower