Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Business learning from walking: 5. Beware Groupthink

groupthink  (ˈɡruːpˌθɪŋk)
— n
a tendency within organizations or society
to promote or establish
the view of the predominant group
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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The trouble with groupthink is it's easily understood in theory and spotted in others. It's like a cloak that everyone can see from the outside but from your own perspective it's invisible.

I've been in walking groups where we've all agreed on the route we're taking. We stop and check - and we continue to agree that the mast over the is the mast on the map and therefore the path we take is this one over here... The fact that none of us spotted there were two masts about a quarter of a mile apart is groupthink.  Basically one person suggested the visual markers and pointed them out on the map and we all agreed, enthusiastically. And we ended up retracing our steps about a mile and a steep hill later...  We've also ALL walked past a path closed sign because we didn't want to believe the path was really, really closed, despite a couple of people questioning the route.

Would you fly with an airline where the pilots were subject to groupthink?
Would you like to undergo surgery where there is groupthink in the operating theatre?

Speaking up is not all about whistleblowing and making a drama out of an everyday moment. It's about pointing out the obvious, not allowing yourself to conform, being unafraid to ask a question and to hold out for a considered answer. The responsibility for avoiding groupthink is with the self - not with others.
from restortivepractice.org

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