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Why GroupThink is a Bad Idea

By John Malmo


Why GroupThink is a Bad Idea, by John Malmo

Memphis, TN – In almost sixty years of working with more than 200 companies, I'm convinced that the most unproductive activity in business is making decisions by GroupThink. Not because meetings are a bad idea. But they have become a crutch. A convenient, very expensive way to dodge individual responsibility.

But what makes GroupThink such a trap is that the real objective of assembling the group gets lost. The objective becomes gaining consensus. Because in consensus, there is the mistaken belief that if everybody in the room agrees, it must be right. Because everybody in the room couldn't be wrong. GroupThink typically seizes the first neat idea or sensible argument, then everyone expounds. Alternative ideas are no longer offered.

An undermining element in GroupThink is misplaced sensitivity for the individual feelings in the group. In other words, a group hug becomes an objective. Being sure that no one is left out. But when inclusivity becomes an objective, the entire process is off track.

Create ideas, concepts, and innovations individually. Make decision individually. Use the group to critique, criticize, and improve. Always include a contrarian and be ready with an alternate strategy.