One of the interesting phenomenon that often creeps up in meetings is group thinking. Often we see members are quick to agree on any topic of discussion. This is the weakness of having meetings more than 2 hours or near the lunch time.

The etiology of group-think.

1. Time pressure (I got to beat the traffic jam..I got to fetch my children from school)
2. Lack of free expression especially when the chairperson is too autocratic.
3. When the decisions are already been decided by the chairman.
4. When members are too careful to speak-up, they are afraid to make any comments. Often because they scare that their ideas are going to be shut down by the chair person. At he end, they choose to shut up.
5. When members look at the problem just from one paradigm. Hence, they already close their mind to another options. As a result they see just a single solution.
6. Sometimes it become a taboo that if someone asks a lot of question and presents a lot of view, the meeting process would be too long and decisions become more difficult to reach consensus. Some people would argue on the process and the decision making procedure.
7. Anxiety to speak-up and argue is common. Social phobia is a condition when people feel anxious to speak in public and subject to feeling of being scrutinized in public.

Signs to watch out for group-think.

1. When everybody start to nod their head on every suggestions then the time may be right to stop the meeting.
2. When people are tired of constructive ideas and criticism they go to the extend of downgrading “the opposition”.
3. When somebody try to speak but stop as to censor himself from further talking, he may be doing self-censorship. As a result, others may do the same too.
4. When everybody rationalize on the same point.
5. Many a times members will say, “let’s just agree”

Group-think is highly undesirable as it decreases objectivity and openness to new and diverse viewpoints.

Few steps to improve the meeting process.

1. Encourage diversity of viewpoint.
2. Legitimize disagreement.
3. Generate new ideas instead of evaluating ideas.
4. Discuss the pros and cons of each ideas.
5. Don’t just brush off new ideas, instead, think through it more than once.
6. Examine the group process.


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