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Groupthink: People acquiescing to the manager's and what they see as others' views during a meeting

Groupthink arises from the desire of a group to maintain harmony and consensus. Groupthink can reduce the diversity of ideas and opinions — people can seek to avoid conflict, or avoid expressing unpopular views, and end up thinking down the same path. When psychological safety is low and people feel they may experience disapproval, particularly from people with higher ranking or status within the group, groupthink can get worse.

It can be uncomfortable to express opinions different from a group. Perhaps you remember that feeling when a teacher asked a question in class and if everyone raised their hand to one answer it wasn't always easy to be the only hand up for a different one.

Fortunately, there are some solid ways to minimise the tendency to groupthink. These include:

  • Generating ideas separately before coming together — can be effective remotely too
  • Hiring diverse teams
  • Increasing psychological safety so everyone feels comfortable expressing contrarian views
  • A culture of questioning assumptions
  • Making use of a devil's advocate
  • Establishing the norm of a shared work product rather than individual credit/blame

Also see:


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