Groupthink can be a killer to innovation, causing a consensus to form, with any contrary evidence rapidly rejected out of hand. This then feedsback so that dissenters then feel wary of raising alternative viewpoints and so the diagnosis deepens. Groupthink pioneer Irving Janis suggests that fighting it is all about vigilante decision making.
What this means in practice is trying to make the group aware of problems with the consensus and offer alternatives. To do this someone in the group has to be critical. To do this someone in the group has to be critical. Encouraging critical thinking is not easy, but it is possible. Try some of these on for size:
- Devil's advocate - Someone in the group has the role of playing devil's advocate, poking holes in the decision making process.
- The power of authentic dissent - Sometimes the devil's advocate isn't believed because they don't really believe the points they make. An authentic dissenter doesn't have these problems.
- Nurturing authentic dissent - Leaders play a key role here in encouraging dissent.
How have you avoided groupthink in your workplace?
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