Collaboration works, until it starts to resemble groupthink. That’s when healthy dissent evaporates, self-defeating tendencies surge, and negative emotions corrode the potential of the group’s work.
Make sure your team is working more like the Manhattan Project and less like Enron. Three tips:
1. Model constructive dissent. Play devil’s advocate and disagree with a unanimous decision. Benefit: You’ll encourage a reluctant but wise person to speak up.
2. Have a brainstorming group write ideas on unattributed Post-it notes. Why? No one knows whether an idea came from top brass or a low-level player, so people back ideas based on merit.
3. Encourage team members to do self-affirmations. Research by behavioral scientist Tanya Menon shows that simply listing one’s own skills and accomplishments before meeting with a group enhances one’s ability to let colleagues shine.
— Adapted from “When Groups Don’t Think,” Jake Mohan, Utne Reader.
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