How to defeat groupthink and the echo chamber to make critical decisions

Groupthink is every businessperson’s worst enemy. When it’s time to make critical decisions, you need original thinking. Which, if you’ve ever been under pressure to meet a deadline and hit targets, is a lot easier said than done.

So rather than wasting time batting ideas round in groupthink and the echo chamber, break the mould with these strategies employed by some of the world’s most successful companies.

groupthinkBreak the group up into smaller teams

While smaller teams may still be prone to groupthink, you’ll still have several different groups to glean good ideas from. When large groups get together, they all tend to agree on something because of one person’s empathy towards others. That common denominator is usually not the most effective solution because it’s also usually the lowest common denominator. It was simply the easiest one for many different people to agree on.

Unsure if your business can do smaller groups? Apple, the world’s most profitable company, is well known for its flat structure and agile teams.

Encourage original thinking

Original thinking is exactly what groupthink doesn’t produce. Groupthink leads to choosing the safest and most conventional ideas, but not the most creative ones. Because the best ideas are innovative and different, it’s important to encourage original thinking. Sometimes people with the best ideas are afraid to speak up because they see it as risky to present an outlandish idea. However, ideas that are over-the-top can lead to stellar results, so encourage and reward original thinking.

For many people creativity is something that must be developed. Just because it’s original doesn’t necessarily make it a good plan. These basics will help form the basis of creativity as a pattern, rather than a one off event.

Ignore the consensus

A red flag that indicates your meeting room has become an echo chamber is when everyone very quickly agrees on a solution to a problem. Quick solutions often lead to poor outcomes. If you want your business to stand out, the ideas it pursues needs to be the ones that stood out. The ones that are easy to agree on usually don’t do that. Instead, they tend to be so conventional that they seemed obvious. That’s because they were, and that might mean they’re already overused.

Be mindful and alert

There’s a reason that so much great business advice comes from eastern philosophy. Those cultures value mindfulness. When people bring mindfulness into the meeting room, they are in the moment and paying attention to thoughts as they arise. It’s all too easy to run on autopilot, but not doing that is critical to success in business. Perhaps that explains why so many startup executives are “hopped up” on Modafinil. In a collaborative environment, several mediocre ideas might inspire one great idea. Listening carefully to everyone’s input and also being mindful of your own thoughts can lead to inspired solutions. Never make critical decisions relating to your business mindlessly.

Support debates

The groupthink phenomenon occurs because people generally want to be agreeable. This is not an effective way to come up with great business strategies because the best ideas often get overlooked in the process of finding a common denominator everyone agrees on.

Learn to support debates during meeting, and encourage people to openly discuss the pros and cons of various strategies without fear of repercussion.

Make sure your business doesn’t fall into the rut that comes with groupthink that passes as good decision making. Using these five strategies will keep your meetings from becoming echo chambers where the most bland ideas appear to be the most popular. When making critical decisions for your business, you need to get the best ideas from each individual team member to come up with creative strategies that produce better-than-average results.

Leave a Reply