From Groupthink to Innovation: Strategies for Encouraging Individual Thinking in Teams
The Owl and The Beetle: Thursday Memo
As humans, we are social creatures, and working in teams is essential to our lives. However, not everyone is comfortable participating in a team; some may be more introverted than others.
I recall being invited to a C-suite offsite to discuss strategies for the upcoming years, yet I remained silent throughout the day. And that almost got me fired.
This essay will explore three main ideas for increasing people's participation in a work team and how my being silent in such an important meeting shaped my future skills as a manager.
Firstly, some people are more extroverted than others. Extroverted people tend to be more outgoing and sociable, making it easier for them to participate in a team. On the other hand, introverted people may be more reserved and prefer to work alone. To increase participation in a team, it is vital to understand each team member's personality and cater to their needs accordingly.
One strategy to overcome this pitfall is to balance individual and group work. Introverted team members may feel more comfortable contributing their ideas in writing than in group discussions. Therefore, team leaders can assign individual tasks and allow team members to share their ideas in writing. Additionally, team leaders can provide extroverted team members with opportunities to lead group discussions and brainstorming sessions while encouraging introverted team members to participate at their own pace.
Secondly, some people are easier to influence and fall into group thinking. Group thinking occurs when individuals conform to the group's opinion rather than expressing their ideas. This can harm a team's success as it limits creativity and innovation.
Team leaders should encourage individual thinking and diverse opinions to avoid group thinking. One strategy to overcome this pitfall is to assign a devil's advocate role in team discussions. This person's job is to challenge the group's ideas and provide alternative perspectives. This method can help stimulate critical thinking and prevent group thinking. Additionally, team leaders can encourage team members to think independently by assigning individual tasks and providing opportunities to present their ideas to the group.
Another strategy to overcome group thinking is creating a constructive criticism culture. Team leaders can encourage team members to provide feedback on each other's ideas and work. This can help stimulate critical thinking and provide opportunities for team members to improve their ideas and work. Additionally, team leaders can provide training on effective communication and conflict resolution to enable team members to express their opinions confidently.
It was not group thinking that kept me silent at that crucial meeting. It was the third and final idea in this essay.