Issue 12 of Predict the Unpredictable
Yesterday we talked about our tendency to group people into "us" and "them". We also tend to evaluate our in-group and the out-groups differently, as in we are always easier on ourselves.
Working in teams has a lot of benefits when it comes to planning and forecasting; we'll touch upon the benefits tomorrow.
Today we will focus on the downsides of working in a team, three of them being conformity, polarizing and group-think.
Conformity, a phenomenon coined by psychologist Solomon Ash, happens when everyone in a group agrees with each other, despite the fact that some members clearly don't share the opinion that the group has. You have definitely been in a situation like this. Everybody seems to be on the same page except for you, but instead of expressing your disagreement you choose to remain silent.
Did you know that people who get together in a group because of a shared opinion tend to become more extreme in that opinion than they originally were? Being together with like-minded is great, but it also tends to accelerate opinions, sometimes turning them into an extreme version. This is the process referred to as polarizing.
Groupthink is a term many people are familiar with, but since this process could have damaging consequences, it is worth explaining it again. It happens to groups who desire harmony over conflict and constructive dialogue in that they happen to have very much of the first one. Groups suffering from groupthink underestimate risks and people outside of the group while at the same time view themselves as superior. Needless to say, groups like this tend to be really bad at decision-making.
Think back to groups you have worked with. Have you experienced any of the above? Could you have done anything to prevent them from happening?