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Do you talk about your problems?

Question about your company culture: Do you regularly talk about your problems? Openly? Is it okay to argue publicly? With your boss? With a VP or the CEO?

If you answered no to any of these questions, you may have a groupthink problem. From wikipedia (emphases mine):

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 an incorrect or deviant decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.

I have a firm belief that progress is made through constructive conflict. When I sense that there is too much agreement among a team for too long, I question whether that team is succumbing to groupthink.

Now, I’m not saying that teams should never get aligned around ideas and plans. At some point we have to normalize and row in the same direction. But from time to time, someone should step back and make sure the direction we’re is rowing in is a good one.

I’m also not condoning destructive conflict. Once a resolution is reached, the team should be able to go out and enjoy a beer together, knowing they’ll slog it out again tomorrow. People who care enough to argue, typically care deeply about the subject they’re arguing about and this is a very good thing.

Passion enables great products. Groupthink sucks.

Categories: 100 words per day, Culture, Product Development.

  • Jenny

    Some of the best (most fun, most productive, helped me learn) arguments I’ve ever had have happened at work. Consensus can be a shortcut that winds up getting you lost.

  • Stacey

    Great Post. I wish more leaders walked the walk, it’s not just enough to say it.

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