Alternative Truth About GroupThink And Consensus-Building

There is no more place for the stereotypical dictators of the corporate world in the global business culture. They have been replaced with the concept of the collaboration that is aimed to create smart solutions through teams working synergistically and building a consensus for decisions.  

This positive step improves outcomes for the goods and services and stimulates a more enjoyable work environment.

The author of the post on shares her own thoughts about group thinking and believes that if there is an overemphasis on consensus-building within a team, it can backfire into groupthink. Here’s the extracts from the post:

Groupthink is consensus-building in its worst form.  Teams slip into groupthink when the goal becomes harmony and consensus, rather than the goal being an effective decision or solution.

Groupthink: is it bad?

There is a concept of groupthink (articulated by Irving Janis in 1972) that describes as a “pathology” that involves premature consensus-seeking before all the facts and implications are evaluated. In this state, the group is less likely to consider external or conflicting points of view.

Groupthink is also more likely to happen in a group with members who already share similar views.

Team members are aware that any dissent or disagreement with the majority opinion may meet with disapproval and even result in the individual being categorized as uncooperative.  This results in a very little incentive to offer a unique perspective, doubts or new data.

So, the outcome of a groupthink decision lacks creativity and is not an effective decision or solution.

Groupthink: how to avoid or prevent it?

How to avoid groupthink to ensure that all decisions are based on a thorough analysis of alternatives?  

There are two ways:

  • First way includes the team leader being aware of the possibility of groupthink and therefore taking measures not to direct a decision but instead to be open to all opinions and viewpoints.  It helps to split the team into smaller subgroups for discussion then have each subgroup report back to the larger team with their unique ideas.
  • Another way is to include team “outsiders” to participate in meetings or discussions.  This could include individuals from other departments, trusted vendors or partners.

What do you think about groupthink from this perspective?

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