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Case study: The Threat of Groupthink - Essay Example

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The group decision making can be regarded as a participatory approach in which individuals critically analyze the problem and put forth their opinions concerning the issue. This paper will discuss the threat of groupthink and how the team and project manager can avoid it…
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Case study: The Threat of Groupthink
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Week 5 Case study: The Threat of Groupthink (Project No: The Threat of Groupthink The group decision making can be regarded as a participatory approach in which individuals critically analyze the problem and put forth their opinions concerning the issue. The process comes to an end as the members of group reach a unanimous opinion. In contrast, there are numerous pitfalls that affect a team in its decision making. Among them ‘groupthink’ is a complex concept which involves “deterioration of mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgments as a result of group pressures toward conformity of opinion” (Thompson, 2006, p.192). This paper will discuss the threat of groupthink and how the team and project manager can avoid it. Fear of failure When the team members become nervous of the outcomes of their decision they hesitate to reflect their views. As a result, a critical discussion may not take place in the group. Since the group members do not bring fruitful ideas, the project leader is forced to take decisions on the strength of prevailing views. Naturally, the proposed solutions will not be effective, and it fails to generate desired results in the long run. In order to overcome this difficulty, as Thompson suggests, it is better to apply a ‘face-saving mechanism’ for teams which would enable them to assess why the outcomes might turn to be poor (p.176). This procedure involves detailed workshop programs under the supervision of project manager for enlightening the group members regarding essential ingredients of the decision making process. Overestimation of groups Similarly, overestimation of groups is another major symptom of groupthink. Thompson (2006) points out that the explosion of space shuttle Challenger in 1986 can be attributed to overestimation of groups (p.177). In this situation, the group members bear the lethal feeling that they are above the decision making standards and are exempted from all types of mistakes. Since they possess this misbelief, they do not express any interest to reassess discussed points or formulated decisions. Probably, this overconfidence would make their decision an ineffective one. The project manager must take sincere efforts to reshape the team members’ views. In other words, the project manager must invite different perspectives so that members would be prepared to defend their argument (Thompson). This technique would inspire the members to raise their views and thereby it would enable the team to reach a thoughtful decision. According to Janis (as cited in Forsyth, 2009, p. 341) one who proposed the term groupthink for the first time, high cohesiveness is one of the main reasons of this threat; however, it does not mean that groups without cohesiveness always make right decisions. Close-mindedness Groupthink can also be attributed to close-mindedness of the team members. As Schmalenberg (n.d.) comments, this symptom is more prevalent in parliamentary politics where political parties are got affected by groupthink and make bad decisions. Under such circumstances, the group members are bit stereotypical and approach the issue from a specific angle of vision. Since they have predetermined their bases of discussion track, the group members will not be willing to analyze different dimensions of the issue. Therefore, those faulty assumptions would certainly affect the reliability of the decision. Thompson (2006) points out the collapse of Cysco System which according to him, was due to the close-mindedness of the group members. In order to survive this threat, it is better to ‘appoint Devil’s Advocates’ within the group. This practice would make the group decision more fact-oriented and participatory rather than frivolous. Pressure toward uniformity Sometimes, certain social factors may pressure the group members to be unanimous and therefore, they themselves suppress their personal opinions. It would force them to formulate irrelevant decisions which normally become disastrous. Thompson suggests that maintaining ‘a second-chance meeting’ will be the best remedy to overcome this difficulty (p. 178). When there is delay in problem-solving phase, the members’ concepts might change and it would avert the threat of groupthink. Getting hesitant The chance of group think is directly proportional to the size of the group. When the team becomes large, the members are hesitated to express their ideas. From the perspective of Thompson (2006, p. 176), a team with more than 10 members may be affected by this problem; hence, he suggests that reducing the size of the team would be the best alternative to this issue. When the team becomes appropriate in size, almost all members would get involved in the whole processes. Conclusion Groupthink is one of the notable threats to team-making. In order to identify the symptoms of groupthink one should have deep knowledge in the theoretical aspects of team building along with a lot of practical knowledge. However, identifying the symptoms is not the end but only the initial phase of treatment. The strategies to address groupthink involve an array of tactics that would vary according to the intensity and nature of the real problem. References Forsyth, D. R. (2009). Group Dynamics. Edn.5. US: Cengage Learning. Thompson, L. (2006). Making the team: A guide for managers. 3rd edition, Prentice Hall. Schmalenberg, G . (n. d.). ‘Groupthink and its impact on business sustainability and decisions’. Sustainability Culture.com. Retrieved 6 Feb 2011 from http://sustainabilityculture.com/archives/395 Read More
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