Groupthink really hurts the effectiveness of teams and organisations…
But it’s not just organisations that suffer from groupthink… Project Management is also affected, which tends to occur more in the performing stage.
For groupthink to occur, the project team has to become very highly committed and motivated towards the project to the exclusion of almost all else.
When strong, the project team can become disconnected to the rest of the organisation… the project team becomes more important that the organisation.
Here are some symptoms you need to watch out for.
Absolute commitment to the project
Groupthink shows itself as an unjustified certainty of the absolute importance and status of the project, in the perceptions of the project team members.
The team becomes detached from reality in terms of the relative value and importance of the project.
Performance and well-being of the project becomes more important than that of the organisation as a whole.
Lack of respect for competitors
A big result of groupthink is the undermining of competitors and their capabilities… and showing a general lack of respect.
The danger here is that underestimation of competitors leads to complacency, which presents competition with the opportunity to take advantage.
Powerful group cohesion and commitment can lead to an intolerance of any internal dissenters, or people which different points of view.
Informal rules tend to arise where members are expected to tow the company line, and follow the lead regardless.
This results in lack of meaningful communication and conflict, that is helpful to achieving the best results.
In this situation team members may feel something is going wrong, but don’t have the courage to stand up and speak out.
Potential problem alarms are therefore often missed, and the team works in a much more reactionary mode.
Here, members of the project team filter information and censor out any negative information, to ensure that external parties only hear the best.
The problem is that the external parties, often the main company decision makers, make decisions on information that doesn’t represent the true situation.
When they realise this, it’s often too late.
This relates to the transfer of information internally within the team.
Internal subgroups tend to form which filter all the information about the performance of the project.
The result is that everyone inside the project team see only misleading information, meaning that incorrect decisions could be made in relation to their personal project responsibilities.
Group think kills the efficiency and effectiveness of any project team.
It is important that the project team manager and the project team members, are constantly on the lookout for cases groupthink.
At the outset, the project manager needs to introduce the principle of groupthink and how this can affect the performance of the project overall… highlighting ways of catching groupthink in progress.
Regular reviews throughout the project process will ensure groupthink is kept to a minimum, and increase the chances of catching it in action.
It would be great to hear of your examples of groupthink in the comments below… Please include how you spotted these examples, and how you rectified the problem