Strategies to Discourage Groupthink
Members of the Forbes Coaches Council explain how groupthink can harm an organization, and how leaders can prevent it. For starters, team members should develop three or four answers to challenges while apart from the group, then aggregate those ideas and bring them together for discussion. Next, stop hiring people who think alike. For any organization to grow, value must be placed on disagreement and perspective. Also, prioritize diverse team members and viewpoints. This means bringing in different races, genders, backgrounds, and/or mindsets. Another suggestion is to "speak last." What does this mean? A leader can often avoid groupthink by listening to all opinions first, asking clarifying questions, challenging assumptions, and then weighing in at the end.

The council also recommends splitting the team up and having them argue for both sides, regardless of each individual’s original point of view. This can be a fun and effective team-building exercise. Next, it's a good idea to encourage critical thinking for each presented option. A couple of questions to ask in this regard are, "What are the unintended consequences of this path?" and "What data would we see or not see to validate or challenge this assumption?" The council also suggests changing things up by inviting new voices, shifting roles and responsibilities, and exploring all ideas. Even teams that experience great success run the risk of shifting from openness and creativity to conformity and close-mindedness. Also, teams can discourage groupthink by making staffers feel comfortable and safe sharing their opinions. Finally, never settle — i.e., keep improving on your current solution.
Forbes (12/04/18)
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