Groupthink Decision Making Essay

1157 words - 5 pages

Decision-Making ToolIntroductionWhat is problem solving and what is the best approach used to face a workplace problem? In my opinion, there is no one good approach to solving a problem. Depending on the underlying circumstances, one of many approaches can bring resolution to the issue or problem that is presented. When faced with a problem, a technique that I commonly use is group brainstorming or consensus decision-making. I do this by pulling the staff together to identify the issue, analyze the problem, facilitate a group discussion with multiple solutions and finally agree on the best possible approach to the problem. By utilizing this approach one must be aware of the symptoms and pitfalls of group think as well as understand key principles for avoiding this problem. The following text will describe the pitfalls of group think as well as mechanisms for prevention.What is Group Think?Group think as described by Wikipedia "as a term coined by psychologist Irving Janis in 1972 to describe one process by which a group can make bad or irrational decisions. A mode that thinking people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive group, when the members' striving for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action."(pg.1). In a group think situation, each team member modifies his or her opinion to what they feel is the consensus of the group. When this occurs the result is that the group has ultimately agreed on something that each member may normally have different feelings/opinions towards a different course of action.Symptoms and Examples of Group ThinkDefined by Janis (1972) are 8 preceding factors that would likely encourage group think. I will list these factors and give examples utilizing the Space Shuttle Challenger as an example of group think. E. Griffin's (1997)examples listed below illustrate the break down of NASA's entire flight readiness team due to their falling victim to group think."1. Illusion of Invulnerability. Despite the launch pad fire that killed three astronauts in 1967 and the close call of Apollo 13, the American space program had never experienced an in-flight fatality. When engineers raised the possibility of catastrophic O-ring blow-by, NASA manager George Hardy nonchalantly pointed out that this risk was ''true of every other flight we have had." Janis summarizes this attitude as ''everything is going to work out all right because we are a special group."2. Belief in Inherent Morality of the Group. Under the sway of groupthink, members automatically assume the rightness of their cause. At the hearing, engineer Brian Russell noted that NASA managers had shifted the moral rules under which they operated: ''I had the distinct feeling that we were in the position of having to prove that it was unsafe instead of the other way around."3. Collective Rationalization. Despite the written policy that the O-ring seal was a critical failure point without backup, NASA manager...

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