Groupthink arrives when the group agrees with itself on everything, dismisses the external ones who disagree, ignores warnings, ignores facts, and closes ranks towards a strong consensus of ideas and actions. They become completely blind and are unable to see any reality other than their own. They are determined to do X and everybody in then group agrees that it’s great.
Big Groupthink historical fiascos include the failed and disastrous invasion of Cuba by the US in the Bahia de Cochinos, many things in the Iraq war, BP Macondo disaster, NASA Columbia disaster and others.
Little Groupthink, however, takes place everyday in teams and collaborative environments when people reach a saving consensus by closing the windows to uncomfortable options. Everybody agrees on a path even if half baked. The power of the Collective Conformity is greater than the individual critical thinking.
It’s impossible to predict if and when Little Groupthink will take place, but my rule of thumb is that ‘early closure’ of issues should raise a little red, warning flag. Very often my own little red flag starts raising when I hear the expression: ‘well, I think we are all saying the same with different words’.
At that point, this collective anxiolytic dissipates many problems. Nine out of ten times, no, we are not saying the same, actually. But we need the Valium to stop the disagreements and confrontation. Perhaps a few minutes before, we were in 180 degrees opposite to each other.
The ‘we are all saying the same with different words’ is a fantastic mind defence. Occasionally is true. Most of then time is closure coming from the sky.
Little Groupthink does not make headlines.
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