Too close for comfort? – When shared culture becomes Groupthink

When does a strong shared culture spill over into groupthink? It’s a tricky one.

Every organisation wants its staff and senior team aligned, committed to achieving common goals and feeling good about their business. Sometimes though, the common ways of thinking and behaving, the confidence in belonging, in knowing what’s right, can tip over into complacency, unconscious bias and faulty decision making. Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court, recently said he thought a kind of groupthink was affecting appointments being made to the judiciary, with decisions based on what and who was familiar, rather than looking seriously at individuals who didn’t fit the norm or had taken alternative career paths.

It’s not only senior appointments which can suffer though. Groupthink can make managers and leaders go with strategies which have worked before, sideline new thinking, become unwilling to take risks or not to tune in to current competitor and market changes: “we know best” can’t be the answer every time.

Gillian Morley is a Partner in Attain Development who have a passion for increasing the number of women in Board and Senior Management positions.

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