Sharpening The Decision Making Process In Groups - Fighting Groupthink
Here's a quick overview of groupthink, and how to avoid it. When you avoid groupthink, you end up with better, more creative, and more appropriate decisions and problem solving. For more on training and development issues be sure to visit the Training and Development Resource Center.
Whenever two or more people meet to make a decision, a number of complex group dynamics come into play. Sometimes those group dynamics operate to create a situation where the best possible decision is not made. This can occur for several reasons. One of the common group effects is the group-think phenomenon. This occurs when group members feel that it is more useful to go along with an idea presented, than to suggest their own, or criticize or comment on the ideas of others. As a result good ideas and solutions may never be placed on the table, and the decision that appears to be supported may not be optimized, since there is little attempt to make it better.
In extreme cases, this groupthink process can move to the point where the final decision is one that is not supported by anyone in the group, and each member thinks that the others support the idea. You can use the following tips, whether at work or at home, to ensure that decisions are made that everyone can live with.
If you are leading a group in the decision-making process, make sure that you highlight the importance of looking at the pros and cons of any ideas under consideration. Set the tone by focusing on the issues, and not that people disagree.
When people support an idea with general statements such as I think that's a good way to go, encourage them to explain why they believe the idea is a good one. Another tactic is to ask those that support the idea to critique it; find the weak points.
Treat pros and cons of ideas equally, particularly if it is your idea under discussion. Feel free to advocate for your position, but advocacy, on it's own, can overpower reason. Keep in mind that although you believe in your idea, it may not be the best of all possible solutions.
Time constraints tend to result in increased pressure to agree. While occasionally, fast decision-making is needed, keep in mind that people will be less likely to raise objections if they feel that raising objections would result in delaying the process.