Remember the Mom question, “If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you too?” It may have been our first encouragement to think independently. That, and a type of wake-up call that we may do and say things as a group that we would never consider as an individual. Welcome to groupthink. When I typed groupthink into Google search, a number of definitions appeared that confirmed that I did not want to bring it into my work or life.
The first to appear was the Oxford definition of groupthink as “the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility.” Followed by the Encyclopedia Britannica words “Decision making affected by groupthink neglects possible alternatives and focuses on a narrow number of goals, ignoring the risks involved in a particular decision.” It all falls in line with something I often say, “People will do things as a group that they would never think to do as an individual.” How often have you seen this in action? How often have you been part of it?
The good news is that there are ways to combat the groupthink phenomena that will bring energy to the team and organization. A few to think about: Design team meetings to encourage individual voices. Throw “what if” into the debates. Leave time to brainstorm and/or mind-map ideas. Be more open to listening to others than ever before. Bring some lightness into even the heaviest topics. The list goes on and I would love to hear your ideas. We can all help each other out of our groupthink holes.
This week: Think about where you fall into a groupthink mindset. Examine why it happens. Think about what you give up when you do so and the impact on you and the organization. Is it worth it? If not, what would you change? Are you ready to take action? Remember, nothing will change if you don’t speak up.
In Next Week’s Post: Facing realities.
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