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The Loss of the Individual: Groupthink’s Dilemma

For a background in the concept of groupthink, I recommend the article Groupthink: The brainstorming myth, by Jonah Lehrer in The New Yorker.

The real problem with groupthink is that it stifles creativity and innovation. It’s the problem of a group of people all latching on to an idea for the sake coming to a quick resolution, giving positive reinforcement, or supporting a person’s idea on the basis of a present relationship over the actual task at hand. Groupthink leads to un-optimal, rash, or simply un-ideal outcomes. It stifles creative by silencing the individual. If we refer back to a previous post on the concept of a winning team, we quickly realize that given our understanding of both groupthink defeats a winning team. A winning team is formed by individuals who respect one another and are capable of switching between the team role and leader role. A winning team encourages creativity and the ability of its members to speak out with ideas or constructive criticisms. Simply latching on to an idea for the sake of a group isn’t characteristic of a winning team, but rather of a team that focuses solely on the task-at-hand over the synthesis of ideas between its members in relation to the task. That’s what the focus should be on. Groupthink is something that should actively be evaluated because it is usually present before it’s ever noticed. If I had to think of one way to best counteract groupthink, it’s for any firm or organization to have a focus on corporate culture and valuing all opinions. If you haven’t made yourself open to the opinions of every person on your team, then you haven’t done your best to counteract groupthink. Companies spend a great deal of money on recruitment and acquiring talent for the long-term, if a focus isn’t put on the opinions of the employees who are hired then there would appear to be an unnecessary loss value in that talent and that is often made evident by the appearance of groupthink.

“Repeated scientific debunking hasn’t dented brainstorming’s popularity.” *As linked to from Lehrer’s article in The New Yorker.


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