Groupthink & How To Avoid It

Could harmony and consensus be damaging your decision-making? Outwardly it would appear that if you have agreement, then you should be locked into the best course of action, but humans are inherently social animals and there is a desire to fit-in and be accepted – one of the easiest ways to achieve this is to adopt the majority view or fall in behind the ‘loudest voice’. The danger in this is that it leads to groupthink, unchallenged compromise, and some voices not being heard at all. 

Bringing your team together should be about hearing different voices and exploring different views. However, if those voices are drowned out or line-up too easily with others – including being too eager to agree with leaders - then the decisions we make may not be the right ones.

Bill George, Harvard Business School Professor and former Medtronic CEO, cites the Emperor’s New Clothes as a classic example of how groupthink can deliver spectacular failures. Bill said: ‘What happened to the Emperor isn’t just the stuff of fairy tales; it’s the real-life experience of many high-level leaders who surround themselves with people who won’t report negative information for fear of repercussions. As leaders rise through the ranks, the less honest feedback they receive. High-level executives can become isolated and not understand the reality of their situation. Such leaders may not walk down the street naked, but lack of information can lead to poor decisions and missed opportunities.’

It’s worth remembering that it was a seemingly insignificant voice – a young child in a crowd – that eventually challenged the notion that the Emperor’s New Clothes were in fact a fallacy.

Another common fault problem is the tendency to take the middle ground. This may not set us on the wrong path, but it does mean we are more likely to keep us on the same path – stifling innovation and creating an environment where ‘good enough’ becomes the aim. Great businesses should be aiming higher than the safety of mediocrity.
If we want to innovate and do things that go beyond ordinary, we need to be open to what is being said. We also need to be able to analyse the impact of the those ideas in real time; to be able to make judgements on what fits, what doesn’t fit and what can be made to fit so that ideas are not lost or wasted.

Thankfully, the Somymu.Pro App can help: it provides a voice to all; it allows leaders to be challenged; but most of all it helps to shape a decision-making process that is not about the loudest or the most senior voice – it is about the best ideas.

It allows live interactions at an early stage – long before ideas become entrenched. The meeting can look at early views and assess them quickly, helping to make informed choices of what should be explored further and what can be disregarded. The simple user interface enables all participants to take part and provides an unbiased overview of what people are actually thinking.

Instant feedback allows all those taking part to see where there is genuine consensus and gives leaders the insights they need to draw conclusions about the best way forward. Results are recorded and our analytics allow data to be interpreted and reviewed, ensuring the decisions are based on what the group really thinks, rather than groupthink.

Try it for free and help your business avoid groupthink, avoid decision drift, and make better business decision.