Great minds think alike

What is groupthink?

Groupthink is a phenomenon that occurs when a group of individuals reaches a consensus without critical reasoning or evaluation of the consequences or alternatives. Groupthink is based on a common desire not to upset the balance of a group of people. The concept was developed by Irving Janis in 1972, an American professor in Psychology. He writes: “The more amiability and esprit de corps there is among the members of a policy-making ingroup, the greater the danger that independent critical thinking will be replaced by groupthink, which is likely to result in irritational and dehumanizing actions directed against outgroups”. Janis identified 8 symptoms of groupthink, flashing lights that can indicate groupthink (check them in my article). Groupthink in itself is not problematic; in the best cases, groupthink allows you to make decisions quickly as a group, to carry out tasks efficiently and to achieve goals. But in the worst cases, groupthink leads to lame analyses, poor decision-making and disastrous outcomes

After the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after lift-off on the morning of Jan. 28, 1986, investigators discovered that a series of poor decisions led to the deaths of seven astronauts. The day before the launch, engineers from Morton Thiokol, the company that built the solid rocket boosters, had warned flight managers at NASA that the O-ring seals on the booster rockets would fail in the freezing temperatures forecast for that morning. The O-rings were not designed for anything below 53 degrees Fahrenheit. NASA personnel overrode the scientific facts presented by the engineers who were experts in their fields and fell victim to groupthink. When flight readiness reviewers received the go-ahead for launch from lower-level NASA managers, no mention was made of Morton Thiokol’s objections. The shuttle launched as scheduled, but the result was disastrous

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Great minds think alike

Learn how to identify groupthinking and learn to install an open culture where everyone can freely express their opinion.