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  • Writer's pictureAdil Malia

'GroupThink' The Nemesis Of Collective Success

Wrongly people working in groups strive for a common 'Group-Think'. Group-Think is actually the nemesis of collective success. It has high potential to lead the group to take Catastrophic decisions.

What in reality helps the group to win is 'WeThink'. GroupThink is the death knell. This piece will help you distinguish the two.

Irving Janis sometime in 1970 popularized 'Groupthink' to mean everyone in the group thinking alike. But shouldn't that be good news, I hear you say. Not really. Nothing to celebrate about Groupthink ... for it is only a group disaster waiting for the ticking time-bomb to explode.

The leader may be a genius. He may have a track record of a 100% success. And what better. The team may have full confidence in the leader, his skills, knowledge, strategy and plans. Wonderful to be in a state of 'No conflict' when the team has everyone in total agreement with its leadership. But that is a clear sign of the group mindset that is closed. It is a shut mindset with only a limited window of opening and that too only in the leader's thought & strategy library ! It is like a room without any cross-ventilation with only one window in the room which supplies light, ventilation and view.

'Groupthink' happens when the group gets mesmerized by the brilliance and the successful track-record of the leader. The Group in this state just stops thinking for itself and loses advantage of it's collective brilliance. Dissent and diatribe are critical values that group thrives on. Dispute is bad but diatribe is important. Astute leadership knows how to bring about a collective agreement over a robust dissent and thus build value in the decisions.

Infact, Herodotus reported in fifth Century BC, an interesting and unique practice adooted by the Persians. After the group had arrived at a kind of 'Groupthink' decision, the King, Minister or Leader (as the case may be) would get the entire group pissed drunk. The Group would then discuss the same subject, theme or have the same arguments or take the same stance on the theme in a state of total intoxication. Surely intoxicated, the concensus built over the Groupthink would find its real perspectives. Next day they would then meet and arrive at the WeThink in a sober condition with new realisations! Worth trying out, I hear you say.

Fixed mindset creates a Groupthink - the leader never errs and thus tends to penalize any dissent, however sane. The 'We Think' leader on the other hand gives medals for wise defiance for that's the best way the team gets full advantage of diverse thoughts.

Truly, the group enhances its value through diversity in thinking. Only it seeks is an astute facilitative leader who can bind this diverse thinking together.

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