Groupthink

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Even though when we work in groups we usually strive for a harmonious and cooperative environment, this does not mean that an environment in which all members are in total agreement is desirable. The phenomenon termed groupthink describes the kind of situations in which each member of a group attempts to conform his/her opinion to what they believe to be the consensus of the group. Whereas this might be seen by some as a way of keeping the peace among group members, it is a rather negative attitude to have, as concentrating on "playing nice" usually detracts from the process of actually tackling the issues and exploring creative solutions. Thus, it becomes imperative to identify the symptoms of groupthink in order to correct it. Groupthink is usually characterized by a general illusion of invulnerability. In other words, group members think of themselves and of the group itself as being beyond harm. Furthermore, group members tend to avoid (through rationalization) dealing with warnings or threats. In addition, the group acquires an aura of morality and any opposition to it is seen as immoral. In the same way, differences of opinion are not tolerated and there is group pressure to stick to the general consensus, which leads members to censor their own doubts. Moreover, there is a belief that all members are in agreement--whether this agreement is expressed or not--and some group members function as gatekeepers to keep other members from getting information that might create diversity of opinion within the group. All in all, the whole process is laden with peer pressure that makes members go along with the group and keep their disagreements secret. Does this sound somewhat reminiscent of Nazi Germany? Once we have identified the problem, it is essential to work towards a solution.In managing groupthink it is fundamental to keep in mind that our main goal is to promote communication of what members are truly thinking and to get them to think...
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