Undoubtedly, if you have ever read around group decision making, you have come throughout a principle known together “groupthink”. The ax “groupthink” was coined by Irving Janis in his 1972 book Victims that Groupthink: A mental Study the Foreign-Policy Decisions and Fiascoes. The used events in international policy to study our propensity to arrive at less than ideal team decisions.

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The main cause? A failure to think critically in a group setting is sustained by ours desire come conform to a bulk and our hesitation to re-evaluate originally rejected solutions. Decisions, in this case, take place too easily without appropriate analysis. The anecdote? Encourage every member come critically evaluate and voice concerns, encourage dissension, and also as a leader, remain humble and open to criticism.

Yet, together many greater education experts can certain attest to, ns have likewise witnessed the other challenge in team decision making. In academia, engaging in an essential dissent is motivated (reviewed through Jetten & Hornsey, 2014), and also while this is a well attribute, practically, this can mean the we periodically spend so lot time expressing our thoughts, opinions, and also concerns trying to with consensus and we somehow never arrive at decision in a timely manner.

Groups deserve to thus hinder the capability to do decisions efficiently and effectively. Yet the truth is, us are regularly working in groups in today’s world. Interestingly, the research says that together employees, our time in meetings has increased over the years, and that ineffective meetings are associated with decreased well-being (Rogelberg et al., 2006). In other words, in 2019, we space spending much more time in meetings the we used to, and also ineffective meetings can make us miserable at work and waste ours time.

So, how deserve to we balance both the desire to avoid groupthink, but likewise a desire for efficient group decision-making in meetings?

Here a few principles that might help:

1. What is the allude of this meeting?

I freshly went to a meeting where we questioned the food food selection for an event. To be my opinion yes, really needed? reality be told, you placed ten professors in a room and also debate what napkins to use, and that can take one hour. No every decision requires a meeting. Figure out very first why you need a meeting. Is this meeting to brainstorm, is it come narrow under options, come share data, or to develop a solution? space you searching for advice? Feedback? Or a group decision? make these expectations clear to those attending.

For example, stop say friend do want to number out what color napkins to use at the event. Perhaps you, together the leader, stay the decision-maker and also you speak “I’m trying to find your thoughts on napkin color”. Allow everyone come talk and respect every answers. And also then speak “thank you for her feedback. I will certainly take it under advisement.”

If alternatively, friend would choose to decide jointly on the napkin color, you could see if you deserve to arrive at a consensus, and also if not, narrow selections down and also vote.

2. What is the problem?

To make decisions together a group, the problems must very first be clarified. In a meeting focused on problem-solving, be certain to agree ~ above a meaning of the problem before talking about potential services (Rogelberg, Scott, & Kello, 2007).

For example, “People have actually formally complained in the previous that our napkin colors dramatically detract indigenous the event. Therefore, we are meeting come determine how to boost this situation.”

3. Protect against groupthink.

Groupthink suppresses dissent. One area where the importance of dissent has actually been highlighted is in healthcare, a ar where interpersonal interaction has been labeled as the reason for over 60% of medical errors and 12 billion dollars wasted in U.S. Hospitals (Agarwal, Sands, Díaz, Schneider & Smaltz, 2010). Maxfield, Grenny, McMillan, Patterson, and Switzler (2005) report that much less than 1 in 10 healthcare providers spoke up once they witnessed something possibly harmful. Why go both the bulk of physicians and also nurses no speak up as soon as they angry incompetence? Maxfield et al. (2005) reported the following prototypical responses: “There no a time or opportunity,” “It’s no my role,” “I’ve checked out them obtain angry,” and “I believed they would certainly retaliate.”

As a leader, in any type of organization, how do we avoid a tendency for others not to speak up? Make certain everyone is heard. Enable the time without repercussions for dissent. Ask open-ended concerns that encourage critical thinking together as, “what would certainly be the downsides of option X that Dr. Michael just suggested?” “Are there any implications us haven’t thought of if we switch napkin color?” “Are there any kind of other possibilities we could consider?” “Can anyone beat devil’s advocate for a moment on this issue?” and finally “Does everyone feel comfortable if we relocate in this direction?”

And here’s some an excellent news–encouraging joining in a meeting is significantly and positively associated with both attendee satisfaction and also attendee tardy of meeting efficiency (Malouff, Calic, McGrory, Murrell & Schutte, 2012)

4. Have a leader that leads.

While everyone should feel comfortable talking, someone need to lead. Too often I have actually watched meetings end with “okay, well…we are out of time, so let’s continue this next time.” Or “let’s chew on this” or “let’s table this” or “well, yes sir a many here, so…..” (the sentence doesn’t even get completed together they look come the others because that a direction).

A leader demands to watch the time and also not waste the suggest of the meeting. Satisfaction v a meeting and also perception that meeting performance are significantly and positively regarded leaders gift able to relocate a meeting along and also encourage decision do (Malouff et al., 2012).

Leave time come review achievements and do a decision. The decisions can be “we need much more information, therefore Dr. Kay and Dr. Hu have agreed to send united state the reports” or “let’s do a draft based upon our ideas to testimonial for following meeting” or “Jamie will certainly take treatment of X when Morgan will execute Y” or also “now that we have taken into consideration the consequences of using napkins, let’s emphasis on entirely new ideas like an individual air dryers”. One method or the other, it is in proactive at the finish of a meeting. Summarize the accomplishments or views, do decisions, and delegate work clearly. In one study, leader taking the time to summarize decision led to higher participant satisfaction and perception the meeting performance (Malouff et al., 2012).

Group decision-making, once poorly led, have the right to amplify individual decision-making mistakes. In various other words, we can come to be stupider in groups. Top top the other hand, if a leader wisely leads by producing an environment where various perspectives are heard and also valued, a team can end up being wiser than any kind of of its people (Sunstein & Hastie, 2015). The separation, personal, instance must know their role is come add brand-new information, and not to you re welcome anyone. The leader must recognize that their duty is to develop an setting where problems are clarified, disagreement is valued, and also tasks and future directions are clearly distributed.


Agarwal R., Sands, D.Z., & Schneider, J.D. (2010). Quantifying the economic influence of communication inefficiencies in us hospitals.Journal of medical care Management,55(4), 265-282.

Jetten, J., & Hornsey, M. J. (2014). Deviance and dissent in groups.Annual testimonial of Psychology,65, 461-485.

Malouff, J. M., Calic, A., McGrory, C. M., Murrell, R. L., & Schutte, N. S. (2012). Proof for a needs-based design of organizational-meeting leadership.Current Psychology,31(1), 35-48.

Maxfield D., Grenny J., McMillan R., Patterson K., & Switzler A. (2005). Quiet kills: Seven an important conversations for healthcare. Crucial Smarts retrieved from: https://www.silenttreatmentstudy.com/silencekills.

Rogelberg, S.G., Scott, C., & Kello, J. (2007). The science and also fiction that meetings. MIT Sloan Managementt Review. Retrieved from: https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/the-science-and-fiction-of-meetings/

Sunstein, C. R., & Hastie, R. (2015).Wiser: Getting past groupthink to make teams smarter. Harvard service Press.

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Yasmine is at this time an associate Professor of behavioral Sciences and Leadership in ~ the united States military Academy at West Point, where she likewise serves together the lead Integrator in the character Integration Advisory Group. As a Fulbright Scholar, she spent a year working at the medical Decision Making center at Ono scholastic College in Israel. She obtained her Ph.D. In education Psychology from university of Minnesota and her BA in Biopsychology from university of Virginia. She is interested in the fields of character and also leadership development, medical decision making, education, and also human-centered design.