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Avoiding the Dangers of Groupthink

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Nancy Golden
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Re: Thought provoking on groupthink
Nancy Golden   9/25/2012 6:28:06 PM
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I agree Nadine, and other factors can also be at play. Sales may be making promises they can't keep without asking first, or upper management may have cast an unreasonable vision and those on the lower end may feel too initimidated to speak up.

I think the statement, "Engineers also often have a tendency to believe they can solve any problem with hard work and ingenuity. This can sometimes lead to ever-increasing expenditures of effort toward a difficult task without questioning the value of the task itself" is also very indicative of some situations. There has to be a point where the work warrants the payoff and if not, that part of the project is readjusted or suspended.

Diplomatic approaches help too - how a person's opinion is received often depends on how it is delivered...and the receptivity of those at the listening/decision-making end counts as well.

Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
Re: Thought provoking on groupthink
Rob Spiegel   9/25/2012 7:54:34 PM
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I agree, Beth -- groupthink has to do with the organization's culture and whether it is emotionally safe to tell the truth. I remember IBM's study on creativity with the company. Those doing the study found a correlation between those who were creative and those who made mistakes. The result is that IBM decided it needed to encourage people to make mistakes. What they really meant was they needed to reduce the pressure on caution.

Tim
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Re: Thought provoking on groupthink
Tim   9/25/2012 9:05:22 PM
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When troubleshooting, it is necessary to make a lot of mistakes.  There are many times that trial and error is all that you have.  Some of the smartest people that I know learned from past mistakes to make new designs better.

Dave Palmer
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Platinum
Re: Thought provoking on groupthink
Dave Palmer   9/25/2012 9:48:07 PM
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@Tim: Good point.  Someone once said, "If you're not making any mistakes, you're not working hard enough."

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: Thought provoking on groupthink
Charles Murray   9/25/2012 10:03:33 PM
Great article, Dave. I used to know a high-level executive who often said "I like positive people." I suppose that's true of all of us, but in his case, he really meant, "Dont disagree with me." Not surpisingly, his meetings were always filled with positive comments, even when he was clearly wrong.

jmiller
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Platinum
Re: Thought provoking on groupthink
jmiller   9/25/2012 10:30:53 PM
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I think there's a lot to be said for creating a healthy environment that will allow for a little friction while working on projects.  Sometimes managment can create groupthink by shutting down those that don't tow the line.

jmiller
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Platinum
Re: Doesn't matter
jmiller   9/25/2012 10:34:56 PM
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I've worked at a company where unreasonable deadlines were set knowing that the team would fail with the idea that they would finish faster with an aggressive target that could not be met than with a realistic one that could be met.  I left that company.  Basically for silly policies like that.  I think giving people a reasonable target with a nice pat on the back will get better results.

jmiller
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Platinum
Re: Thought provoking on groupthink
jmiller   9/25/2012 10:37:35 PM
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I think that was a smart person.  Of course, it takes a lot as a manager to allow people to make mistakes.  they can be costly.  They will delay the end result.  But you are right because they can be turned into a positive.

tekochip
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Platinum
Project Management
tekochip   9/26/2012 8:32:12 AM
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I think one of the issues is that Engineers typically work at solving a single problem rather than developing an entire project.  With Navistar, the Engineers were solving each problem as it occurred , rather than looking at the entire project and seeing that it was never going to succeed.


BrainiacV
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Platinum
Wait. What?
BrainiacV   9/26/2012 9:23:57 AM
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I had to attend meetings and participate in group activies that were designed to impress upon us how a group will invariably make better decisions than an individual.  Now you're saying that could be wrong?

Next you'll be saying it was a waste when we were forced to read "Who moved my cheese?" and write a report on it (expecting it to be praise for the book and the management that had the foresight to make us read it).

Not to mention the required reading of "Faster, Better, Cheaper" about the Mars Pathfinder mission, where we learned that it was expected to fire 10% of your staff so you could achieve your goals.  Although it seemed the next two missions were failures and made the success of the first a statistical fluke...BUT I WAS EXPECTED TO EMBRACE THAT MANTRA!

Golly. Now you're saying I was right all along... :-)

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