Issue 13 of Predict the Unpredictable
Yesterday we concluded that teams can suffer from a lot of mental fallacies that will prevent them from making forecasts and good decisions. In his research on forecasters, Philip Tetlock, the author of Superforecasting, found that teams were 23 percent more accurate than individuals when it came to making forecasts. There is, in other words, still a reason to work in a team.
Some forecasters did complain about teams suffering from conformity and that members tended to be too polite. The way to solve this was by establishing some ground rules. The ground rules included a request that each member tried extra hard to come up with constructive criticism when they heard other members' forecasts. Since everyone knew the benefits of such behaviors, they made sure to really encourage it.
Another part of the ground rules was something called precision questioning. This is a kind of questioning that really focuses on details, like what sources one used for a forecast, or the definition of a certain term. By doing this, the groups always opened up for discussion which made them less likely to suffer from conformity, polarizing and groupthink.
The best way to avoid the downsides of working in a team is to set up a couple of ground rules with your team, My advice is to include rules like these:
- We evaluate constructive criticism and therefore we should spend at least half our time together engaging in it.
- Whenever someone questions, we welcome it ... even when we don't like being questioned.
- During each meeting, a least one member should ask some precision questions.