Groupthink warning signals and barriers to dialogue

Groupthink is present when a cohesive team experiences tremendous pressures for conformity and people strike for unanimity at the expense of critical thinking. This is more likely to arise when groups are highly cohesive and face great deal of stress and pressure. Groupthink results in undesirable decisions even if the group is cohesive and members have great intellect, deep knowledge and good intentions.


Warning Signals


Here are some signals that your group is not having a sufficient dialogue.


  1. Management meetings seem like polite games of golf.

  2. Subordinates have to wait before commenting on issues.

  3. Planning and strategy sessions seem more like preparation rather dialogue

  4. Some people tend to dominate the meetings,

  5. Concerns and feedback from several levels below are rarely heard.

  6. Executives simply ratify decisions that have already made through the channels.

  7. People are highly concerned about rules when communicating across horizontal or vertical units.

  8. Group members rarely hear from someone who is concerned about criticism and opposition encountered during proposal.


Major Barriers to Candid Dialogue

  1. Structural complexity in and around the team

  2. People’s roles are ambiguous

  3. Homogenous composition

  4. Large status differences

  5. Leaders who fail to admit mistakes

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