• Iwona Wilson

8 signs your team is a victim of groupthink


Have you ever wondered why some teams thrive while others struggle to survive?

Can consensus decision – making so commonly used by facilitators ever be a bad thing?

Experts claim, that it can – if you aren’t armed for a groupthink!


So, what is a groupthink and why it matters?


Groupthink is one of the key blind spots at work that might be killing your business.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, groupthink is “a pattern of thought characterized by self-deception, forced manufacture of consent, and conformity to group values and ethics.”

Popularized in 1972 by social psychologist, Irving L. Janis, groupthink refers to a psychological phenomenon that happens when people in a group commit to decisions, they don’t necessarily agree with in order to avoid creating emotional tension or conflict with their colleagues.


Janis identified eight different "symptoms" that indicate groupthink may be undermining team efforts. If majority of those symptoms occur at the same time, there is a very high likelihood of failure and bad decision making.

  1. Group cohesiveness is viewed as more important than individual freedom of expression

  2. The group operates in an insulated atmosphere

  3. Group leaders demonstrate impartial behavior

  4. There is no standard method in place for evaluating ideas and decisions

  5. Members’ social backgrounds and ideology are homogenous

  6. The group is under a lot of stress to perform

  7. The group has experienced recent failures

  8. There is excessive difficulty placed on the task of deciding, such as a moral dilemma

Does GroupThink happen in current climate. Sadly, it does and even more often than we think and rarely have successful outcomes.


Many times consensus decision making when done right it may arrive in a well informed decisions and high buy in and that’s all good. But what we have learned that consensus decision making sits just next to the groupthink when people are so committed to make a consensus is just very easy to prioritize harmony over the critical analysis, challenge.


Here is the think, you need those people who ask the hard questions, challenge, analyze, evaluate……without them your team can miss out on making the best most informed decisions


Grow collective intelligence rather than consensus and groupthink.


Its when people start jumping to conclusions fast without spending time to evaluate options, understand the reasons behind, what the decision is actually about, who needs to make it and who suppose to contribute, etc. If you are about to make an important decision, talk to a professional facilitator. There is a higher likelihood to avoid blinds spots if you have an external service provider who has no vested interest in the decision or the outcome and can bring the process or two to ensure logic and engagement is followed.


Check out this video to find out how groupthink can turn the most well-intentioned, intelligent, creative team into a group of people nodding and smiling while keeping their best ideas to themselves.










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