The Challenger failure was a great example of the hazards of Group Think at it’s worst. But the fact is that we all experience Group Think – literally daily, weekly, monthly as we transition through our work lives. Great organizations have made it a ‘process’ to challenge the generally accepted norms and behaviours. Great organizations have instilled in their leadership teams, the importance of seeking out potential ‘Group Think’ outcomes and challenging teams to come up with better, more honest opinions and decisions.
Just as much as President JFK selected a circle of close subject matter experts and closeted themselves into a think tank that would stay together until they were able to arrive at a workable solution to the Cuban Missile crisis.
Great Organizations also provide training, education and awareness on Group Think to everyone in the organization, to create the appropriate environment for open dialogue and discussion/debate on the jugular Organizational issues and decisions.
Great organizations have made a science out of the ability to determine what could be deemed as “almost an accident” before it occurs. This is where the meta data that determines a decision’s outcome becomes truly critical and relevant. Here, if you juxtapose the Challenger Shuttle disaster – the team should have performed scientific modeling or performed adequate assessments and assumptions on the criticality of pre-launch weather conditions, as well as the Shuttle’s technical health prior to giving the go ahead on that fateful, cold, January morning in 1986. Most importantly the team should have been trained and aware of Group Think and the symptoms thereof…and this tragedy may have been reported as “almost an accident,” rather than the International horror spectacle that it became.
But then again hindsight is always 20/20 vision – right?