Avoiding Groupthink: Coming up with Better Team Decisions
Groups and teams are increasingly important as organizations become increasingly complex. I agree with Robert and Gert. The way in which groups and teams are used in the decision-making process needs to be re-visited. Give the group a mission to come up with ideas and pick the best ones and groupthink is likely to set in.
Groups are notoriously bad at coming up with great ideas, making decisions, and generating breakthrough strategies. No one wants to stick his or her neck out or go against the tide.
A far better approach is to:
- Begin as a group and present the issue, problem or situation.
- Provide ample opportunity for questions to clarify the issue.
- Give individuals time to think and reflect. In fact, give individual quiet, reflection time before the group takes a break.
- Provide a structured format to present ideas.
- Send team members off to ponder over the situation individually, in pairs or trios.
- Return with ideas at a later date or in an hour if it is a retreat.
- Have each individual, pair or trio present ideas so all ideas are surfaced and heard.
- Form small breakout groups with no more than 6 members.
- Use a variety of tools to analyze ideas (i.e. idea maps, force fields, decision trees, storyboards). Do a thorough analysis.
- Ensure that you give everyone "air time" and don't just let a few extroverts dominate.
- Come back and present the analysis.
- Boil ideas down into 2 or 3 that have merit.
Anne Thornley-Brown is the President of Executive Oasis International, a Toronto team building and management consulting firm. She has designed and facilitated executive retreats, meetings, and team building for companies from 18 countries.