Making decisions as a group offers many benefits: work can be distributed, there is a variety of opinions, and coordinated efforts yield better results than isolated ones. In short, two or more heads are better than one, as the old saying goes. This is true in general. However, decisions made by groups may be marred by groupthink.
Groupthink, a term coined by research psychologist Irving Janis in 1972, occurs when a group of well-meaning people makes bad decisions because they base their judgment not in actual facts, but on the need to conform to the group or, more specifically, to the group leader.
Pay Attention to This Red Flag
Groupthink may lead to some terrible decision-making. For example, a famous case of groupthink is the Bay of Pigs Invasion, one of the greatest foreign policy failures in the history of the United States.
There is a mental red flag that almost always signals that groupthink is occurring. That red flag is self-censorship, or the tendency of individuals to avoid expressing ideas that don’t conform with the views that the group has embraced.
Whenever you catch yourself or a member of your team self-censoring, it’s time to take stock of the situation and admit that groupthink may be occurring. If you act on time, you will be able to correct the course before mental conformity becomes the norm in your organization.
How to Prevent Groupthink
Business owners and team leaders must beware of groupthink. If everyone you work with seems to agree with you all the time, you may have an ongoing case of groupthink in your organization. These are some ideas you can apply to promote diversity of views in your team.
- Encourage dissent. Welcome diverging opinions and make it safe for others to voice them
- Assign a Devil’s advocate. When discussing a specific issue, ask a team member to articulate a view runs counter to what is considered conventional wisdom in your organization
- Ask an expert. If a decision is particularly important, you can consult with an expert who can give you an independent view of the issue at hand.
- Take a step back. If you feel that your presence looms too large over your team, pause your active involvement for a while to allow them to reach their own conclusions
About the Greater Riverside Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
At the Greater Riverside Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, our core mission is supporting small businesses and economic development with advocacy, business referrals, marketing opportunities, training programs, student internships, and scholarships.
To keep serving our members to the current circumstances, we offer virtual events and webinars that facilitate networking and the exchange of useful information. Be sure to check our calendar of events and don’t hesitate to join in; many events are open to both members and to the public as well.