Home ... NNF ... Manston ... Groupthink

Looking at the unutterable shambles surrounding Manston airport, I once again found myself wondering - how on earth did this happen?

One possible explanation is the all-too-common phenomenon of groupthink, which has been described as "collective optimism and collective avoidance".

The idea was developed in the early 1970s by Irving Janis, who identified three causes and eight symptoms of groupthink. See how many you can spot that apply to TDC over the last decade or so:

Groupthink

Looking at the unutterable shambles surrounding Manston airport, I once again found myself wondering – how on earth did this happen?

One possible explanation is the all-too-common phenomenon of groupthink, which has been described as “collective optimism and collective avoidance”.

The idea was developed in the early 1970s by Irving Janis, who identified three causes and eight symptoms of groupthink. See how many you can spot that apply to TDC over the last decade or so:

1 – High group cohesiveness

2 – Structural faults:

  • insulation of the group
  • lack of impartial leadership
  • lack of norms requiring methodological procedures
  • homogeneity of members’ social backgrounds and ideology

3 – Situational context:

  • highly stressful external threats
  • recent failures
  • excessive difficulties on the decision-making task
  • moral dilemmas

Janis came up with eight symptoms of groupthink:

Type I: Overestimations of the group—its power and morality

  • Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking.
  • Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions.

Type II: Closed-mindedness

  • Rationalizing warnings that might challenge the group’s assumptions.
  • Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, biased, spiteful, impotent, or stupid.

Type III: Pressures toward uniformity

  • Self-censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus.
  • Illusions of unanimity among group members, silence is viewed as agreement.
  • Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of “disloyalty”
  • Mind guards — self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting information.

Groupthink results in defective decision-making – consensus-driven decisions are the result of the following practices of groupthinking

  • Incomplete survey of alternatives
  • Incomplete survey of objectives
  • Failure to examine risks of preferred choice
  • Failure to reevaluate previously rejected alternatives
  • Poor information search
  • Selection bias in collecting information
  • Failure to work out contingency plans.

Any of this ringing any bells?

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  1. A campanologists nightmare! And that's nothing to do with Carry On Up The Airport!I will not mince my words, read this too (nothing has changed in nearly a decade)http://www.m-a-g.fsnet.co.uk/macc/03_03_18.htm

  2. If you have the time and patience and a GSOH read all these minutes:http://www.m-a-g.fsnet.co.uk/index.htm