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Groupthink in Organizations

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Groupthink is a term that is used to describe the tendency of people in a group or in a meeting to stay quiet out of fear that a disagreement might arise from others. This therefore generates the idea that it becomes easy for members to just remain quite and have the meeting come to an end rather than to have the group to move to another hour in disagreement or in defending ones beliefs and opinions.  This term was first coined in 1972 by a social psychologist Irving Janis who said that the phenomenon occurs when a group make faulty decisions since group pressures leads to deterioration of the ‘mental efficiency, moral judgment and reality testing’. This phenomenon is common and very real leading to silencing of the opinions of the members making them to prefer to swim with the current rather than fighting against it and this is very common if the members don’t hold any popular opinion (Whyte, 1998).

Many collective decision making failures have often been attributed to the unwillingness of the group members to express their unpopular opinions and most incident investigations have attributed the lack of dissent to be the causal factor of this problem for instance  an incident conducted by Sunsten (2006)  following the explosion o f the Columbia space shuttle cited  the organizations culture at the  National Aeronautics Space Administration as the main cause and this was because it was difficult for the minority and the dissenting opinion to flow through the agency’s hierarchy. Based on a long standing psychological explanations by (Noelle-Newmann,1974) and Janis,1972) refers ‘group think’ and  a ‘spiral of silences’ as when group members become reluctant in public express their private concerns about certain collective problems especially if they believe that other members of the group are likely to disagree with them.

Groups that are affected by groupthink often ignore alternatives and prefer taking of irrational actions that serve to dehumanize other groups and  the groups that are  vulnerable to this phenomenon  when its members have similar backgrounds, when no clear rules exists for decision making process and finally when the groups is insulated the of the outside opinions. Group think can sometime be very deadly to success of an organization as it serves to kill I innovation therefore stopping it in its tracks plays a critical role in helping the organization to be flexible, fresh as well as open to all ideas and dissent and these becomes key factors in reducing the ‘yes boss!” atmosphere that often becomes more prevalent as the organization ages.

Steps to Stopping Group Think

Several steps can be followed to enhance the efforts of management of the organization to help in curbing the phenomenon of groupthink. First step is by ensuing that a good team is get together and this team should be able to utilize range of personalities and perspectives and an example of this is the need to have eight to nine types of team players who are tasked with extracting a good outcome from the meeting. These includes: a plant member who is a creative ,unorthodox and imaginative team player who is able to solve difficult problems, a resource investigator a member who is the networker of the group and is highly driven to be capable to making connections with people, chairman or coordinator who ensures that each an every member of the team contributes to decision and discussions of the team, shaper  who is a team member who maximizes on challenges and thrives on pressure, a monitor- evaluator who attempts to weigh all the options presented by the team and able to make accurate and objective judgments .

Another crucial team member is the team worker who serve to maintaining of positive interpersonal relationships within the team, company implementer who is the practical thinker of the group and creates systems and processes that help in producing the needs of the team, completer is the detail member of the team and finally a specialist member in-corporate a specialist’s knowledge in to the actions of the entire team.

Second step of eliminating group think is by treating a conflict as an essential part that contributes to a solid outcome and this is because a conflict ensures that a result that has been tested by all challenges is reached at and in most cases such results are more robust as long as a sound chair plays its role in controlling the conflict thus allowing it to take its course in a group serve to prevents the occurrence of the group thinking.

Another crucial step that helps prevent group thinking in a group is by informing the team members that there is no perspective, suggestion or even a question is regarded wrong or dumb in that group and this is complemented by setting the rules at the onset of the meeting making it clear that everybody’s opinion counts and that each member as the freedom to think as they deem fit and to states what  they wish to as long as their opinions are not insulting, demeaning or offensive to other members (Packer, 2009).

The fourth step is to allow time for the making of decisions as a group and this is crucial in that making of decisions quickly in a team is usually a bad idea because such decisions are not tested and tossed around and if that happens the leader should suggest a suggestion on that meeting allowing members to revisit it at a later meeting. In addition to that bringing in the devils advocate into the team and this is applied when assembling a team with differing personalities and thus help in creating different perspectives that rocks the reality of the group thus forcing the members to address the raised issues enlightens the line thinking members putting them to other alternatives of tackling the issues thus alerting them that resistance is possible outside the cozy environments.

Moreover, another step is by avoiding adding of judgments or even desired outcomes to the group especially the task setter or the group’s manager but instead should address and act as if clueless just as the other members and this allows for challenging of ideas in a preconceived notion especially when good ideas are shared. Also a specialist’s should be introduced and should be a person who understands and knows the subject matter inside out  thus can swat the group wrongheaded ideas and elucidate the facts without adding any opinion but rather sticking to the facts s well as the factual possibilities.

Finally avoiding surrounding oneself with the ‘yes’ people is very important in evading the phenomenon of group think and this is facilitated by not employing people who are similar as it will create clones which is not an ideal environment for any work thus the only good team is the one characterized with a wider range of experiences and values that are added to the groups discussions.

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