8 Signs Your Team is a Victim of Groupthink

Have you ever wondered why some teams thrive while others struggle to survive? Research shows that there are invisible forces that may be undermining the success of your team.

For a while, consensus decision making was a thing, and lots of companies touted it as integral to their healthy democratic culture. Consensus can't be a bad thing... can it? Actually, it can - unless you're armed and ready for groupthink.

Groupthink is a tricky concept. Irving Janis, a social psychologist credited as the first to develop the idea, defined it as a “psychological phenomenon in which people strive for consensus within a group.” At first Janis’ take on groupthink doesn’t seem so bad. After all, isn’t the point of meeting to gather folks together to come to an agreed upon decision about what needs to be done? 

Groupthink Groupthink is the desire to avoid dissent from the group’s position so as to maintain a consensus of the group.

Check out the video to find out how it can turn the most well-intentioned, intelligent, creative team into a group of people nodding and smiling while keeping their best ideas to themselves. 


In his extensive research on groupthink, Janis developed a checklist of eight symptoms that your team may be crippled by a "smile and nod" culture. They are:

  1. Group cohesiveness is viewed as more important than individual freedom of expression
  2. The group operates in an insulated atmosphere
  3. Group leaders demonstrate impartial behavior
  4. There is no standard method in place for evaluating ideas and decisions
  5. Members’ social backgrounds and ideology are homogenous
  6. The group is under a lot of stress to perform
  7. The group has experienced recent failures
  8. There is excessive difficulty placed on the task of making a decision, such as a moral dilemma

And check out this post for more about groupthink and other biases that can cripple engagement and undermine a healthy company culture. 

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