Groupthink decision making defects

Groupthink is was first introduced by Janis in 1972. It is defined as mode of thinking that people engage in when are deeply involved in a cohesive group and when striving for unity override members’ motivation to realistically apprise alternative courses of action.


Space Shuttle Challenger


Groupthink is present in space shuttle Challenger case. One of the worst space disasters was led by flawed decision making process and decision made a night before the launch. In 1986, Kennedy Space Centre experienced the Challenger explosion killing seven astronauts. 73 seconds after the launch, space shuttle crashed. Launch temperature was well brow the previous temperature at which the shuttle engines had been tested and this resulted in an explosion.


Decision Making Defects


1. Few Alternatives


Group considers only a few alternatives, often only two. In Challenger’s case, there was only launch / no launch decision. Other possible alternatives could have included delaying the launch.


2. No Re-Examination of Alternatives


Group fails to re-examine alternatives that may have been initially discounted. Based on early unfavourable information. Top NASA officials spent time and effort defending and strengthening their position rather than examining MTI positions.


3. Reflecting Expect Opinions


Members take little or no attempt to seek outside experts opinions. NASA did not seek out other experts who might have some expertise in this area. They assumed they have all information.


4. Reflecting Negative Information


Members tend to focus on supportive information and ignore any data and information that cast negative light on their preference. MTI representatives repeatedly tried to point out errors in the rationale the NASA officials were using to identify the launch.


5. No Contingency Plans


Members spend little time discus sine the possible consequences of the decisions and thus fail to develop contingency plans. In the Challenger case, there are no record of possible consequences of an incorrect decision.

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