Part 1 1. What is the difference (in your words) between groupthink and the Abilene Paradox? Groupthink and the Abilene Paradox are both group conditions that can lead to ineffective decision- making, but they have some key differences. Groupthink occurs when a cohesive group prioritizes harmony over considering alternative options. This can result in a lack of critical thinking and lead to poor decisions. In contrast, the Abilene Paradox occurs when individuals in a group privately disagree with a decision but fail to voice their concerns, leading to counterproductive outcomes. Unlike groupthink, there is fragmented cohesion in the Abilene Paradox, with individuals privately assessing the problem but not effectively communicating their dissent. Both conditions can be avoided by creating an open environment where dissenting opinions are encouraged and incorporated. 2. Which do you think is easier to fall into and why? I believe the answer to this question might have been different in years past. However, in the current age we live in, I believe it is much easier to fall into groupthink. This is primarily due to the fact that there seems to be a much larger number of people these days following trends and doing what is considered popular. Everyone likes the same things simply because everyone else does. There seems to be a massive amount of following the crowd. Perhaps it stems from various fears, however the reason I chose groupthink over Abilene Paradox is because people seem to have no problem voicing their concerns these days, even if it is pertaining to subject matter that most people consider ridiculous. However, I will say that in today's rendition of voicing concerns, if it does not align with whatever agenda is being pushed, you get cancelled. 3. If you were leading a group and saw signs of Groupthink, how would you handle it? I would do my best to make it abundantly clear that free-thinking, free speech, and debate is not only acceptable, but highly encouraged. Second to that would be reminding everyone to be respectful. I would encourage the group to think about what is best critically and logically. I doubt there will ever be a time where everyone agrees on everything; therefore, I would also encourage the group to practice honesty and humility. I believe one of the primary reasons this happens is out of a fear of offending someone, hurting someone else's feelings, having one's own feelings hurt, or fear of embarrassment. However, in group or team settings, it is important to consider the needs and best decisions that benefit the group as a whole. 4. Are there any personal examples of any of these (Groupthink, Abilene Paradox, etc.) decision blunders that you have been a part of and realize now? The most relevant example in my own life would be when I was on active duty in the Marine Corps. Initially, I did not even want to join the military; however, a friend of mine at the time was obsessed with it and kept pestering me to join with him under the buddy program. This would have allowed us to go to bootcamp together and be placed in the same platoon. Unfortunately, he ended up dropping out of high school and I continued on to recruit training. Throughout my time in the Marine Corps, I did not really notice any sort of indoctrination or mentality change. However, towards the end of my active-duty service while looking back, I noticed that I had become like a stereotypical Marine. The mentality of everything always being one hundred percent, hard-core, gun obsession, motivated, patriotic, and ready to kill had become embedded in me. I realized that this was due to the commonly spoken and heard
phrases and the environment. Several years after getting out, I realized that some of the traits I gained like discipline and situational awareness still remained; however, the "gung-ho" mentality had dissolved as I was no longer constantly surrounded by it. Part 2 Think back to some teams you have been on that were especially dysfunctional or effective. Did they follow the team dynamics favored by Google, or were they more directive in nature? What made them work (or not work)? I will utilize an example of a team that did not work. At my previous employer, we had a team of roughly 6-8 people with an authoritarian dictator as a manager. This team was dysfunctional for several reasons. Regarding the specifics of Google's dynamics, there was a blatant lack of both equality and ostentatious listening. There was obvious favoritism within the team, therefore only two or three of the members' opinions and ideas were actually taken into consideration. Furthermore, if a "less important" member came up with a good idea or plan, the selected elite would take credit for it, further fostering favoritism. When the people who were not favorites of the manager would speak, the favorites and the manager would literally be carrying on their own conversation as if that individual were not even speaking. The environment was extremely toxic and as a result, most team members did their own thing and there were constantly problems on that shift.
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