Avoiding Groupthink

Organizations want to develop a culture where people are involved and engaged. However, if a company is too engulfed in developing a shared culture, they may develop “groupthink.”

Groupthink occurs when an organization over-emphasizes harmony and makes irrational decisions just to keep things calm. An organization stuck in
groupthink will disregard outside influences, assume the group has superior knowledge, and ignore any negative signs and feedback.

The best way to cure groupthink is to prevent its happening. Here’s how!

1) Protection for opposing views: When groupthink occurs, anyone speaking against the group decision gets shot down. Make sure to let people voice
dissenting opinions. This type of productive conflict can lead to greater and sounder ideas and decisions. Only after all ideas are encouraged, considered and vetted are decisions made.

2) Have oversight and control: It’s important that there isn’t one person with too much power. Create a system with checks and balances to make sure that multiple opinions are heard and new ideas are considered.

3) Avoid favorites: As a leader, don’t have a small group of “favorites” that you go to for information and advice. If overused, opinions and situations can become biased and real issues may not get addressed. In addition, this will divide the organization between the people who feel “in” and those who feel “out.”

4) Have ample time for decision making: Often you know that a decision will need to be made. If so, don’t put off the process. Start early. If an important decision has to be made quickly, the stress put on the group will lead people to just agree on a solution for the sake of having a decision rather than making the “right” decision.

5) Change up decision making: As an organization, make sure to change up the ways you make decisions. Sometimes use majority vote; sometimes have an open discussion; sometimes collaborate with people in various positions. This way decisions won’t become an “automatic” process and people will feel they have an opportunity to contribute.

Having a shared culture is important. Avoiding Groupthink is even more
important!