Groupthink Case Study

Groupthink Case Study

Groupthink Case Study Introduction Working in groups is something we all encounter in our life, in and outside of work. A group – or team – consists of people working together because they have a common purpose or goal. Decisions are made by teams every day and it is imperative that the decision-making process be effective. Shortcomings in the decision-making process should be avoided (Thompson, 2004). A situation that can occur within a group is called Groupthink. Groupthink leads to the making of bad decisions because of poor judgment and lack of creativity from the team members.

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The power to agree becomes stronger than the power to stand up or speak out about your views or opinions. A group often ends up failing if they are stuck in groupthink for an extended period of time. Groupthink usually leads to unethical decisions and immoral judgments. Thompson (2004) defines groupthink as what “occurs when team members place consensus above all other priorities – including using good judgment when the consensus reflects poor judgment, improper or immoral actions, and so on. ” This case study will focus on the threat of groupthink and how a team and a Project Manager can avoid it.

Threat of Groupthink The threat of groupthink occurs when members of the group start believing they can’t be wrong. Thompson (2004) wrote “There is a strong intolerance in a groupthink situation for diversity of opinion. ” Team members will ignore obvious risks and believe that they are right, even though the decision may be immoral or based on stereotypes (Janis & Mann, 1977). The group’s primary function is to accomplish the task at hand and groupthink threatens the effectiveness of the members’ commitment. How to Avoid Groupthink

The Project Manager needs to give a clear goal to the team members to avoid groupthink from occurring. Every team member also needs to know that the Project Manager is holding them accountable. According to Janis & Mann (1977) “the leader should be neutral when assigning a decision-making task to a group. ” The Project Manager must be impartial and make him or herself available for each team member. Using constructive criticism and being accepting of criticism as the Project manager will also help deter groupthink (Janis & Mann, 1977).

Team members need to give their input and participate actively to avoid groupthink. Team members may decide to divide into subgroups. Thompson (2004) noted “Team size is positively correlated with groupthink, with larger teams more likely to fall prey to groupthink. ” The group can also assign one person to seriously voice questions on each member‘s idea to force everyone to take another look before a decision is made. Both Thompson (2004) and Janis & Mann (1977) define this as “devil’s advocate”. Conclusion

Avoiding groupthink can make your decision making process less chaotic since decisions are made routinely within a team. Team members & Project Managers who avoid this pitfall will be more creative and meet their goals more effectively. Simply be aware that groupthink exists and understand the symptoms of it. References Thompson, Leigh L. (2004). Making the Team: A Guide for Managers. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Janis, I. L. & Mann, L. (1977). Decision making: A Psychological Analysis of Conflict, Choice, and Commitment. New York: Free Press


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