Breaking Group Think by Dr. Bea Carson

In: Social Issues

Submitted By michelk
Words 3991
Pages 16
Avoiding Abilene
Bea Carson

Page 1
5/22/2006

AVOIDING ABILENE:
BREAKING OUT OF GROUPTHINK by Dr. Bea Carson

Introduction
Have you been trapped in the frustration of meetings that were not functioning well?
Have you sat in a meeting where you did not speak your mind because you knew the risk, or the futility of it? Perhaps you suffered in more bad meetings than you participated in useful ones. Did meetings, when nothing of value was accomplished, seem a terrible waste of time, yours and everyone else’s? Reflecting on it later, did you wonder what it was that caused the teams to be so ineffective?
The situations that led to these non-working meetings tend to fall into three categories:
1) We are so sure that everyone is in agreement that we don’t want to be the lone dissenting voice.
2) Our team has always been “right.” We have been on the cutting edge for as long as anyone can remember – therefore we must be “right” now.
3) The boss says we must – therefore we must.
After biting our tongues through these exasperating meetings, the next thing we know something blows up (figuratively or literally) and we berate ourselves for not having said something. What causes this ineffective – actually, dysfunctional – behavior and how do we stop it? Let’s start by putting names to those three situations described above.

© 2006 Carson Consultants
1187 Neptune Place
Annapolis, MD 21401

410-349-1326 www.carson-consultants.com Avoiding Abilene
Bea Carson

Page 2
5/22/2006

Scenario 1 – Abilene Paradox
Your boss recently heard about a great new technology. At a meeting, he asks if that system would accelerate a project that is already behind schedule. Your gut tells you “this is a bad idea,” but no one else seems troubled. Moreover, the undercurrent you believe you heard was “we must do it.” Good money is thrown after bad, trying to…...

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