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Groupthink is a term that is used to describe a situation where people come together to make a decision. Unlike other forms of decision-making, groupthink is used to refer to a situation where the particular group is required to maintain togetherness and at the same time to come up with a quick decision.
This might blur the judgment of the individuals in the group resulting to an imperfect decision. Social psychologists warn that groupthink can destroy an organization if it is not addressed in its initial stages. Psychologists have therefore been trying to create a model that can point to the warning signs of groupthink and to create methods for avoiding the phenomenon from occurring.
Irving Janis first introduced the concept of groupthink in 1972 when he published an article that delved into the relationship between groupthink and foreign policy decisions. According to Janis, groupthink was responsible for some of the unpopular decisions taken by America in its relationship with foreign nations.
In organizations, groupthink focuses on foreign policy since the groups that formulate policies dealing with matters outside the organization are usually under pressure and are required to maintain cohesion. This sets up a robust ground for groupthink to flourish in the organization.
How to Identify Groupthink
Generally, it is hard to identify groupthink in an organization but there are some guaranteed ways to do so. A method that can be used to characterize groupthink in an organization is where the group members experience an element of unanimity, morality, and they have a feeling of being impenetrable. This gives them the force impression that everyone agrees with their decision and that their decisions are based on morality and therefore they are sound.
In most cases, members of a group stifle their individual opinions for fear of appearing controversial. Since the group is under pressure to beat a deadline, they end up imitating other groups and conforming to unpopular decision in order to take the minimum time on deliberations.
In most cases, any particular group will have people who are on alert to avert contradictory ideas from entering the group deliberation. As the group works with partial information, high demand, and a desire to be conventional, they come up with an idea that might be lopsided and one that is not well thought.
How to Avoid Groupthink
Any organization that is concerned with its survival should strive to avoid groupthink. This can be achieved by ensuring that there are no apparent expectations and requirements during the start of the meeting. On top of this, members should be encouraged to speak out their minds even if it means opposing the presented ideas.
Additionally, an organization can break up the main group into other smaller groups to encourage intense discussion and creativity. Members of the group should also be encouraged to seek the advice of people outside the group to ensure that they examine if their ideas are feasible with those of the outside world. (Harris)
Groupthink is a situation where members of a group come up with decisions, which are not well thought and therefore unpopular. This might be caused by working under pressure and members being afraid of introducing controversial ideas that might bar the group from arriving at a quick solution.
This can be avoided if the management encourages every member of the group to voice out their ideas even if it means opposing the proposed ideas. On top of this, the members should be encouraged to seek ideas from people outside the group to ensure that their decisions agree with those of the outside world.
Harris, B. What is Groupthink? 2010. Web.