I asked the audience what they thought of this word. Was it positive or negative? Like most groups, they agreed that it was negative. Then, I boldly said, “my mission to help you begin to see Groupthink as a positive.”
It’s not speaker’s hyperbole.
Typically Groupthink is defined as the phenomenon where the belief of an individual will conform to the perceived beliefs of a group — even if seemingly irrational, unhealthy, or dangerous. It’s also described by psychologists as conformity to group norms. And there are reams of evidence to back up this phenomenon.
My purpose is to help us rethink groupthink.
Brainstorming or any group ideation works best when individual brains work. I tell groups, the joy of brainstorming is to bring your best brain. If we truly leverage and recognize all the individual brains in the room, then groupthink is ultimately positive.
The challenge of a great facilitator is to help people recognize two things: 1) that it’s their individuality that will enhance the session and 2) that the goal of a session is to see how individual ideas might be combined, adapted, modified and used to solve a problem.
In the prework or as I prefer to call it, the “preplay” before a group ideation session, I will often ask each participant to answer five questions that will remain confidential.
1. Are you an individual?
2. What would hinder you from being an individual in our upcoming group session?
3. What might be done to remove those barriers?
4. What might be the repercussions for being an individual in this group?
5. What might be the repercussions for not being an individual in this group?
Why not ask these questions to yourself before your next meeting?