While William Whyte, Jr. coined the term, “Groupthink” in 1952 in Fortune magazine, Irving Janis, a research psychologist, in 1971, defined it as “…the mode of thinking that persons engage in when concurrence-seeking becomes so dominant in a cohesive ingroup that it tends to override realistic appraisal of alternative courses of action.”
There are historically tragic mistakes such as the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (1941), The Bay of Pigs invasion fiasco (1961), Vietnam War, Watergate scandal and even more recently, Dina Badie argues that the invasion of Iraq by the United States, were all driven by groupthink., defined it as “…the mode of thinking that persons engage in when concurrence-seeking becomes so dominant in a cohesive ingroup that it tends to override realistic appraisal of alternative courses of action.”
Some studies suggest that groupthink can be found in decision making in many facets of our world from economics (collapse of Swissair and UK Bank Northern Rock), politics, and even, sports (MLUA mass resignation in 1999). In fact, according to Wikipedia, more than twenty major studies focusing on some aspect or application of groupthink have been published since the beginning of 2010. The danger of groupthink and mistakes in decision making can easily promote this “fear of doing things differently,” particularly when failure results in serious consequences.
Listen to Senior Performance Strategy Consultant, Lisa Dunbar, as she digs a little deeper into what group think is, what the dangers are of group think on your organization and where we might find remedies to overcome groupthink.