Real-time Protection from Groupthink

“Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcomes. Cohesiveness, or the desire for cohesiveness, in a group may produce a tendency among its members to agree at all costs. This causes the group to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation.” Wikipedia

Everything in a group is geared to oppose diverse thinking, especially in a more established group. Sayings like the following comes to my mind when I think of how we should behave in a group:

  • “Go with the flow.”
  • “Don’t upset the applecart.”
  • “Let sleeping dogs lie.”
  • “Move on.”
  • “Get over it.”
  • “Don’t be a troublemaker.” 

Getting people to speak up is NOT the problem; we have been doing it for most of our lives. In my view, providing PROTECTION from groupthink is the problem. Properly solving this problem can enable anyone within the group to speak up safely.

Ironically, no one in the group of academics promoting psychological safety seems to be talking about this critical point regarding explicitly protecting team members when they speak up.

A key to my understanding of this issue comes from the quote from 1965:

“Psychological safety is an atmosphere where one can take chances…..without fear &
with sufficient protection.”

Edgar Schein and Warren Bennis in 1965 – Psychological Safety – Wikipedia

I have designed an early intervention toolkit to protect anyone in an organization when they speak up and feel they are being browbeaten to “shut the f#*k up!” It’s called Spatz.AI for anyone interested in helping me bake this loaf of bread.

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