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The battle against Groupthink in the Design Firm

The definition of Groupthink:

Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.”

I think it’s fair to say that designs made by committee alone tend to be very “safe”. Stuff that is overly tested or critiqued to the point where the creativity, the uniqueness and risk is hammered down to make it digestible to any consumer on the street, and the designers are left with a product exceptionally “fine” and nothing more. These products usually follow trends or copy ideas from other companies, and do not go out of their way to innovate, or break the flow. It is no wonder, then, that the products do alright – making just enough money for the effort but without any sort of spike in profits. Committees still analyze, and discuss and try to prevent this problem of a “boring product” from happening without systemizing and capitalizing on the teams of designers they consist of.

A large portion of the problem comes from Groupthink, a phenomenon when a group of people conform to an idea to prevent argument in the workplace. But argument is not a bad thing, in fact, it can be very good for a group to argue if the ideas are important. Regardless, I made a list of ideas one could use the next time they are subjected to work in a group, in order to prevent a sub-par product due to the infamous “groupthink”.

  • Give people a way of writing down their ideas anonymously before a meeting, so as not to be subjected to other people’s ideas.
  • Let these same people vote for or comment on their favorite ideas anonymously.
  • Create a chart to visualize the people who have more dominant personalities from the rest of the group.
  • Allow members of the team to rate how confident they are with their ideas and their comments before these are revealed to the entire group as a whole.

What do you guys think? Have you ever witnessed, been a part of, or produced a bad product due to Groupthink? Let me know in the comments!

One Comment

  1. kcerna wrote:

    I don’t think I’ve been a part of a group that produced a bad product. But I have been in one where they told me a few sets of design were good, but was told later by the professor that they weren’t working at all and weren’t actually working for the topic I was given. It contrasted greatly from my group’s opinion because they had given me the impression they were fine, even though they weren’t.

    Saturday, November 26, 2016 at 7:33 pm | Permalink