April 8, 2010
The Dangers of Groupthink
Question 1 – One factor was that there appeared to be group unanimity in the new steps with the mail delivery system and appeared to be a consensus. The civilian worker was horrified with the process but lacked the confidence to speak up. Also, group members seemed to rationalize that the assumptions made were good because they had the majority. I think in the future after the teams have discussed the issues, they can take a discreet poll. Therefore, the person(s) with differing opinion will not be singled out and their point may be considered.
Question 2 – Status is a huge differentiator. Not even civilians want to say something contrary to a general. In this situation they felt he had absolute power. Lower status members, in more cases than we care to think of, will acquiesce and go along as to not draw attention to them. They are not likely to be dissenters. They will keep their heads down to try and prevent pot shot taken out at them. Higher-status group member have a certain amount of influence, although they may not be subject matter experts. It is a deterrent to lower-status members to speak up.
Question 4 – Smaller groups are faster at completing tasks and individual perform better. Smaller groups tend to not have to be so concerned with so many different opinions of them. Rather, they can be more comfortable to express their true feelings. In larger group, you may get more social loafing because they may see more people as lazy and inept. In such a situation individuals may become “free riders” and coast on the group’s efforts. The best ways I have seen group cohesiveness is to keep the group small and isolate them.
In conclusion, I have been in the groupthink situation recently and perceive cohesiveness was a deterrent. They broke into a smaller group and they picked people they were more familiar. They did not include me because of my differing views. A few months later the...