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Avoiding Decision Failures: The NASA Challenger Explosion and Groupthink

When alternatives are overlooked because cohesion is favored over individuality, the results can be tragic and lasting.

The top decision-making team responsible for the Challenger launch was very familiar with each other. They had worked with each for many years prior to the mission.


Group cohesiveness in decision-making can be deceiving. Decisions are often made quickly and with high levels of consensus, but this doesn’t always correlate to the BEST choices. When alternatives are overlooked, because cohesion is favored over individuality, poor decisions can arise.


How can you avoid this?
Remember a quick decision doesn’t always mean a great decision. Carefully examine alternatives by bringing together diverse groups of people with varied backgrounds. It is important that the solution is the priority rather than pleasing, or being an appeasing group member. 

Precursors of Groupthink
1. Cohesive Group
2. Insulation from Experts
3. Leader Preferences


This post also highlights 8 symptoms of groupthink including:

  • Inherent Morality
  • Stereotyped Views of Others
  • Self Censorship
  • Mindguarding 
Deb Nystrom, REVELN's insight:

Following my last post, this is a  large part of a the risky, and at times the lonely business of challenging "strong leader preferences" that led to a tragic, well known outcome in the USA. ~ D

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Angie Tarasoff's curator insight, March 27, 2014 12:52 PM

This is a tremendous article that discusses decision traps when making decisions in groups.


The precursors and symptoms of groupthink  are polarities - how might you manage the situation when you notice these behaviours occuring?

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Leadership Challenges: Embrace paradoxes to move forward

Leadership Challenges: Embrace paradoxes to move forward | Change Leadership Watch | Scoop.it

"This provocative post highlights current business paradoxes challenging leaders:  change or remain stable, complexity versus simplicity, growth and sustainability and more."


After seeing evidence of our increasingly VUCA world, one that is growing in its Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous characteristics, this useful list of paradoxes resonates.  Does it resonate to your experience?

 

___________________________

  

Leaders must find ways to deal with this complexity and embrace and manage it to achieve simplicity.

___________________________

   


Excerpted:

  

Paradox 1: growth versus sustainability

Growth as it is currently defined tends to result in an unquestioned and unchecked consumption of resources. Sustainability considerations are generally considered to put a major strain on growth ambitions.


The way forward is innovation, but another paradox present itself:

  

Paradox 2: innovating versus operating

Innovation is increasingly about service, process, business model and social innovation.

However, focusing on innovation does not mean ignoring operations. The trick is that what allows operations to thrive can seriously get in the way of innovation and vice versa.

  

Paradox 3:  change versus continuity

If you try to innovate too many things at once you will end up with chaos, if you do not change at all your organisation will decline. What is the right balance?

  

Paradox 4: collaboration versus competition

Business is inherently competitive yet today, collaboration is common, with most companies having collaborated with their suppliers and their customers. Leading companies are promoting collaboration through crowdsourcing or with competitors.

  

Paradox 5: complexity versus simplicity

Demands on leaders result in increasing levels of complexity, arising from the number of possible, unpredictable interactions between collaborate, compete; change, remain stable; innovation or operational excellence; growth or sustainability. Leaders must find ways to deal with this complexity and embrace and manage it to achieve simplicity.

  

Paradox 6: Heart versus mind

Decisions need to be made in the face of incomplete analysis, unpredictable outcomes and changing circumstances. The foundations for analysis and factual arguments differ from emotional and visionary engagement; people who excel at one are not necessarily particularly good at the other and yet both are needed.

  

Read the full article by Dr Bettina von Stamm here.

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How Having & Sharing a Vision For Your Company can Accomplish the Miraculous

How Having & Sharing a Vision For Your Company can Accomplish the Miraculous | Change Leadership Watch | Scoop.it

Your vision should be a reach AND realistic => based on  an ability to develop key distinctive competencies.


What are examples of a clear vision?

Ewing Kauffman, at his founding of the Kansas City Royals baseball team in 1969, articulated a vision of competing in a World Series within 5 years. While this sounded highly improbable at the time, it caused the entire organization to measure every action it took against the aspiration to be the best! Kauffman built a superb organization and, while there wasn’t a World series within 5 years, the Royals did get to the World Series within 10 years.


The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis was started in 1984 with a vision to “cure spinal cord injury.” This was an audacious goal given the state of spinal cord research at that time. Twenty seven years later, the Miami Project has raised over $300 million for research and has pioneered critical breakthroughs in treating spinal cord injury -  unthinkable at its founding

 

In addition to its motivational  value, a clear vision serves as a powerful prism through which you judge every action you take.  It helps you set key priorities.  Does the action in question bring you closer to achieving your vision?

 

For example, if you want to be the best business office products retailer in your city, do you spend sufficient time out speaking with and understanding the office products needs of your potential business customers? A vision  forces you to ask these questions and serves as  a powerful organizing statement for your efforts.

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Skipped a step? Judge orders Hostess to mediate with union, postponing shutdown

Skipped a step?  Judge orders Hostess to mediate with union, postponing shutdown | Change Leadership Watch | Scoop.it

"Twinkies won't die that easily after all."   How about a little mediation, folks?


Goes with my other ScoopIt Change Leadership Watch post today on taking different perspectives on fault-finding.  It's not all about the unions, it would seem, according to Forbes.


_____________________________

   

The bankruptcy judge hearing the case says that the parties haven't gone through the critical step of mediation.

_____________________________


Excerpted:


The news came Monday after Hostess moved to liquidate and sell off its assets in bankruptcy court citing a crippling strike last week.
    
The bankruptcy judge hearing the case says that the parties haven't gone through the critical step of mediation.


====


DN:  This reminds me a bit of the Mel Brooks movie, "Springtime for Hitler," that had investors banking on failure, and then it didn't happen.  Made for quite the show.

With 18K jobs affected, the question is who is steering the ships for what preferred end?

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It's got to be about Why, not How: How Great Leaders Inspire Action, Simon Sinek

"Why FIRST:  Communication and the Golden Circle:  Why, How, What?  Inspire where others do not.  Profit is JUST a result NOT a reason for existing."


Simon's examples include Apple (why so innovative?), Martin Luther King (lead major change, Civil Rights movement), and the Wright brothers (controlled powered manned flight that others did not achieve, tho' were working on.)


_________________________

   

"The goal is to do business with people who believe what YOU believe." ~ Simon Sinek

_________________________

   


Apple:  NOT, What we do, great computers.  Want to buy one?

RATHER:  Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo, we believe thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is making products that are beautifully designed, simple to use & user friendly.  We happen to make computers.  Want to buy one?


Counterpoint Tivo, which (until a recent court victory that tripled its stock price) appeared to be struggling.  

   

http://www.ted.com Simon Sinek presents a simple but powerful model for how leaders inspire action, starting with a golden circle and the question "Why?" 


Source here.


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Presentation Videos - Change Results
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Robin Martin's comment, May 11, 2013 12:39 PM
Thanks Deb!