Remedying Individual’s Biases and Avoiding Groupthink

Bias and groupthink significantly impact the effectiveness of team decisions. These limitations lead to poor choices and reduce creativity and innovation. That’s why finding ways to understand and reduce biases and groupthink is essential. Below are some methods you can use to address these pervasive issues.

Addressing Biases

Everyone possesses biases. Biases are human traits developed over time based on our experiences, culture, and environments. While it can take time and persistence, we can minimize their impact.

Here are two key strategies:

Self-awareness is the first step. Acknowledge that biases exist and understand how they affect your judgments. Keep an open mind, question your initial reactions, and learn how to see things from different perspectives. Here’s a link to learn about biases.

Embrace feedback and encourage a culture of feedback in your team or organization. Feedback gives you the opportunity to re-evaluate your decisions and helps you become more aware of your biases.

Challenges of Groupthink

Groupthink occurs when people avoid conflict to reach consensus. This leads to flawed decisions. The group is overly influenced by a more powerful person’s viewpoints or demands. Concern for harmony, conformity, or obedience in the group results in incorrect or deviant decision-making processes and outcomes. Groupthink is a phenomenon you need to watch out for in every team situation.

Here are some strategies to correct Groupthink:

Defining Decision Types

We recommend consideration of 4 types of decisions:

  • Command Decisions: decisions made by the leader alone,
  • Consultative Decisions: decisions made by the leader after consultation with direct reports [and others, as required],
  • Consensus Decisions: decisions where the leader delegates the decision-making authority to subordinates, and
  • Collaborative Decisions: major strategic decisions made by leaders with assistance from leaders of arms-length 3rd-parties.

Business leaders need to ensure the type of decision is clear at the beginning of the decision-making process. Also, all involved must be educated on the decision-making processes and understand the decision-making tools that will be used.

Promoting Debate

For all types of decisions, except Command decisions, team members should be encouraged to express diverse views, even if those views are unpopular. In certain instances, subordinates can debate Command decisions, however, that should not be a regular practice.

Injection of diverse viewpoints and debate help break the cycle of conformity and stimulate critical thinking. Set the expectation that all team members have the right, and the obligation, to express their opinions freely. Guided workshops can be used to breathe life into stalled decision-making debates.

Designate a Devil’s Advocate

While there are better approaches, like Edward de Bono’s more comprehensive “Six Hats”…

Appoint someone to purposely challenge ideas and assumptions. This forces the team to reconsider and strengthen their decisions. Some experts recommend rotating the Devil’s Advocate role to avoid resentment or conflict.

A better approach is to recognize some people’s thought processes differ, sometimes radically,  from the ‘norm’ and use those people’s unique thinking styles to seek out alternative opinions…using Consultative decision-making conversations rather than group conversations.

Employ Outside Perspectives

While it is not wise to rely too heavily on others to do the deep thinking…

Industry or professional 3rd-parties can be used to provide input for decisions and to review decisions as a final test. If you choose to rely on 3rd-parties, remember, they too bring biases and groupthink. Ensure you can rely on their advice to be as objective as possible. Be open to but cautious about fresh perspectives and claims that the future can be predicted with accuracy.

Hold Anonymous Voting

Decisions can be voted on anonymously with no pressure to conform to the majority, promoting honesty and reducing the fear of retaliation or judgment. We have used this technique many times to assist clients with difficult decisions. Here’s an example.

Breaking down individual biases and groupthink isn’t an overnight process. It requires intentional effort, patience, and commitment from everyone involved. The goal isn’t to completely eliminate them—it’s to ensure they don’t interfere with quality decision-making and innovative thinking. By doing so, you can maximize the potential of your team and drive them towards success.

Together our conversations can expand solutions and value

We look forward to helping you bring your ideas and solutions to life.
Share the Post:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *