Posted by: A.R. Cherian | October 22, 2009

The Consequences of Groupthink

We were discussing teams and groupthink in class the other day. My professor made the statement that if you have a tight, cohesive group, you will always have groupthink. The question is to what extent?

A good definition of groupthink is a type of thought exhibited by group members who try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas (Wikipedia).

A CBC News article article highlighted some evidence of groupthink in the intelligence community and the CIA leading to its recommendation to invade Iraq in 2003 because finding weapons of mass destruction would be a “slam-dunk” according to the words of former CIA chief George Tenet.

We all know the outcome. To date, no weapons of mass destruction have been found. There was no “slam-dunk.”

I do not want to state my opinion on the war or the failures in the war here, but in terms of groupthink, this article showcases some of the problems with groupthink and how devastating and life-changing it was for millions of people in America and Iraq.

Groupthink must be acknowledged or it can have disastrous consequences when it happens at the highest levels of any government or business. Formal controls to challenge assumptions and limit groupthink must be in place and utilized when making major decisions. Managers and team leaders must be vigilant of this.


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