Avoiding groupthink in the Manning

Read the section on “Avoiding groupthink” in the Manning and Curtis book, pp. 256-258. With your team, investigate multiple examples of groupthink and present information about the phenomenon and at least 3 scenarios / examples (other than the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster) in a PowerPoint presentation. Your presentation must cover examples/ scenarios in which groupthink has had a significant consequence. PowerPoint advice: Every slide should have clear, readable text no smaller than 28 point font; remember to limit your use of full sentences. Each slide should also have some kind of visual to enhance the communication of that content. Using APA guidelines cite your sources, including in-text citations. The professional team product includes an introduction, multiple content slides, and a conclusion, as well as a reference slide. Better products usually have about 15 to 20 slides (four or five from each student). Here’s what I need done: Responsible for 4 slides: 1-example (The collapse of Swissair), 1-scenario, 1-present information about the phenomenon, 1- how this example groupthink has had a significant consequence. Please remember the following when completing your slides: limit use of full sentences, include some kind of visual to enhance the communication of the assigned example, use APA guidelines to cite your sources, including in-text citations. Work must be original, grammatically correct, and include visual to enhance the communication of the assigned example. Add all sources in APA format! Avoiding Groupthink As important and effective as teams can be, there are also potential problems, the first of which is social loafing.Social loafers do not contribute to group effort because they do not feel they will reap individual rewards, nor will they have to suffer individual blame.130 A second potential problem is groupthink, a term coined by William H. Whyte Jr. in 1952. As a group settles on norms of behavior in stage III and into a mode of performance in stage IV, there is a risk of falling into a pattern of groupthink. This is a well- documented pitfall in group dynamics described by psychologist Irving Janis in Victims of Groupthink. Janis defined groupthink as “a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive group, and when the members’ striving for unanimity overrides their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.” Groupthink is an important concept for a leader to understand.131 When people meet in groups, they are often under strong pressure to conform to the majority view. When they don’t conform, they risk being isolated or cast aside. In such situations, people may make errors in judgment and conduct based on a desire to preserve group harmony and to continue to be accepted by the group and its leader. Janis describes additional factors that, when combined with cohesiveness, can foster groupthink. These factors are a highly insulated group with restricted access to external information, and a stressful decision-making context, such as that brought on by budgetary crises, external pressure, or a history of recent setbacks. As a result of the trilogy ofgroup cohesiveness, isolation, and stress, a group can arrive at decisions that are unsuccessful and possibly even catastrophic.132 Janis describes eight symptoms that can give a group early warning that groupthink may be present. The following is a description of these symptoms with cases in history to illustrate their effects:133 1. Illusion of invulnerability. A feeling of power and authority is important to any decision-making group. It gives members confidence that they will be able to carry through on any decisions reached. However, if they come to believe that every decision they reach will automatically be successful, then they become prey to an illusion of invulnerability. Janis showed that American military leaders had this illusion 257 in choosing not to fortify Pearl Harbor more heavily prior to the disastrous attack by the Japanese that led to U.S. entry into World War II. 2. Belief in the inherent morality of the group. People want to believe in the rightness of their actions. In the extreme, this can lead to exhortations that “God is on our side.” Such claims fulfill an important function—they relieve responsibility for justifying decisions according to rational procedures. People do this as a way to protect self-esteem. 3. Rationalization. When a final decision is reached, it is normal to downplay the drawbacks of the chosen course. The problem in a group arises when legitimate objections exist, but they are overshadowed by the perceived negative reaction to anyone who voices those objections. Key engineers in the NASA Challenger decision ultimately withdrew their objections to the ill-fated launch, not because of any correction in the admittedly problematic O-rings, but rather, because they rationalized the risk of catastrophic launch failure as only “possible,” while the risk of censure and ostracism for continuing to speak out against the launch became a virtual certainty. 4. Stereotypes of out-groups. President Truman and his advisors fell victim to the temptation to falsely characterize enemy groups in 1950 with the decision to cross the 38th parallel, a line drawn by the Chinese Communists as a “line in the sand” between North and South Korea. The decision was made despite repeated warnings from Communist China that to do so would be viewed as a declaration of war by the United States on China. How could Truman and his advisors have so seriously misinterpreted the Chinese warnings? The decision was based largely on a false stereotype of the Chinese Communists as being weak and dominated by Russia, who, it was believed, did not want war. The stereotype proved false, and the Korean “police action” became a resounding failure as the Chinese attacked with massive force. 5. Self-censorship. As one of the principles on which our country was founded, the ability to express oneself without censorship has always been highly valued. It has also been considered a healthy safeguard against group coercion in our work lives. But the fact is, the most common form of censorship is the one we commit on ourselves under the guise of group loyalty, team spirit, or adherence to company policy. The decision by President Kennedy and his advisors to send a band of Cuban exiles into the Bay of Pigs has been ranked as the greatest foreign policy mistake of the Kennedy administration. The day after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, JFK said, “How could I have been so stupid?” The answer is that Kennedy and his advisors suppressed their doubts, censoring themselves to make the operative belief seem like the truth. 6. Direct pressure. Pressure on group members can surface in many forms. The net effect is the same: Group members are encouraged to keep dissident views to themselves. As one example, Janis reported that during Watergate, “Nixon time and again let everyone in the group know which policy he favored, and he did not encourage open inquiry.” Another example involves the Challenger disaster. Several engineers made the recommendation to postpone the Challenger launch. According to the Rogers Commission report, certain group members responded with direct pressure on those engineers to alter their views, with statements such as “I’m appalled that they could arrive at the recommendation” and “At that rate, it could be spring before the shuttle would fly.” Sadly, groupthink mentality occurred again with the space shuttle Columbia. Management ignored safety warnings from engineers about probable technical problems. The Columbia accident investigation board recommended a change in NASA’s “culture of invincibility.” 7. Mindguards. A bodyguard is someone charged with the protection of another person’s physical well-being. In groupthink, a corollary entity may surface to protect the group from disturbing thoughts and ideas—a mindguard. Interestingly, such mindguards typically perform their function not within the group itself, but far from the confines of group discussion. Data, facts, and opinions that might bear directly on the group are deliberately kept out of the group’s purview. Generally, this is done with a variety of justifiable intentions—time is running short, a regular member will 258 summarize for the group, and not pertinent and perhaps saddest of all, the group has already made up its mind. 8. Illusion of unanimity. Finally, the rationalizations, psychological pressures, and mindguards have their effect—the group coalesces around a decision. Drawbacks are downplayed, and the invulnerability and morality of the final course are reinforced. Doubting group members may even feel that they have adequately put their own fears to rest. More likely, it is simply the sense of relief that the struggle has come to an end. An illusion of unanimity sets in. In contrast to the destructive forces of groupthink, Janis describes a number of techniques that a leader can employ to help ensure a rational consideration of all available courses of action: 1. The leader should assign the role of critical evaluator to each member, encouraging the group to give open airing of ideas, including objections and doubts. This practice should be reinforced by the leader’s acceptance of criticism of his or her own judgments. 2. When charging a group with a task, the leader should adopt an impartial stance instead of stating personal opinions and preferences. This approach will encourage open discussion and impartial probing of a wide range of policy and problem-solving alternatives. 3. The leader should set up outside evaluators to work on the same policy question. This tactic can prevent the group from being insulated from important information and suggestions. 4. When the agenda calls for evaluation of decision or policy alternatives, at least one member should play devil’s advocate, functioning as a lawyer in challenging the testimony of those who advocate for a position. 5. After reaching a preliminary consensus about what seems to be the best policy or decision, the group should hold a “second chance” meeting, at which every member expresses as clearly as possible all residual doubts and rethinks the entire issue, before making a final decision.134 Groupthink can occur at any time when people work and solve problems together. Group mistakes and even tragedies can be averted by the leader who understands the eight symptoms of groupthink and employs the five techniques to prevent i

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