What is Groupthink?
Groupthink refers to the psychological phenomenon that occurs within a team or a group of people, in which the desire for conformity, group harmony or conflict avoidance results in an erroneous or poor decision-making process and ultimately deviant outcome.
Why does Groupthink happen?
The main aspects that affect groupthink according to Janis (1972) are:
High group cohesiveness
Although that having a cohesive group might sound as a must in order to achieve long term success, it is one of the main factors that leads to groupthink. Members of the team avoid their opinion in order to avoid any potential conflict with other team members.
A lack of impartial leadership, lack of methodological processes and high level of homogeneity of members’ ideology or social backgrounds can lead to groupthink.
In the case when finding a consensus is extremely difficult or there are other factors like time pressure, moral dilemmas or fear of failure affecting the decision-making process, group members can tend towards conformity.
How can we minimise the risk of Groupthink?
Recent research suggests that one of the main factors in mitigating groupthink can be group problem solving, so the process of involving team members in an analytical decision-making process.
Providing a rational process, variety of thoughts and perspectives, robust methodology and efficient problem solving can result in a reduced risk of groupthink.