Group-Think: over time, a set of individuals working on a project will tend to think the same way, believe the same conclusions and results. This group mindset leads to psychological inertia, as new members are introduced instead of pursuing new ideas provided by “a fresh pair of eyes” the group tries to assimilate new members to existing thinking. – TRIZICS; Cameron 2010

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You and I have been victims of group-think and perpetrators.

One area that I know group-think is rampant is a board that I serve on. The board shall remain nameless, and you know the story. There is a problem with something, a new board member (who based upon experience has an idea and solution for discussion) only to have the board Group-Think the idea to death…leaving the new board member lifeless and remembering to NEVER offer an idea again.


This same thing happens within your organization and team. We all become complacent in “How things are” and that the new people “just don’t understand how we do things around here”.

As the existing team members pile on their rocks, eventually the new member and all new idea are crushed under the weight of Group-Think and they not only die…they never return again.

Group-Think is a boulder on the path to innovation, employee engagement and progress made in your work. It happen more than you are even aware!

5 Ways to avoid Group-Think
  1. Have new (different) people check the solutions and problems, reporting the data and what they found to the group.
  2. Go to the site of the problem. In Lean this is call the ‘gemba’. Having actually witnessed the solution and working with it will open minds. If you can’t go to the actual location yourself, TRUST the people who work with the problem on a steady basis, to describe what the work is and how they feel it may be improved.
  3. Enforce a method like P.R.O.P.S where people must work to understand and reinforce the solution, before stating alternatives.
  4. Have people lead small experiments to see if the new idea may work, and what was effective (worked well) with the experiment.
  5.  When you feel and know that Group-Think is happening CALL THE GROUP on it! We often don’t even realize it is happening. If someone is responsible for recognizing and re-directing the group…it can help to allow new ideas to thrive.

With the above ideas in your team-leader toolbox you should be well equipped to stop Group-Think.

What do you think?

Have you been the victim of group think? What techniques are effective at stopping it? Is group-think ever a good thing?

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