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How to Short-Circuit Groupthink and get Sh*t Done

You dive right in, but progress is painfully slow because we all know the feeling of writing strategy by committee. It’s the work equivalent of deciding where to eat with a group of 10. In the end, no one wins, and everyone compromises.

There is another way. We’ve helped teams through some tough strategic work, and we know these sessions can be amazingly productive, and dare we say, fun?

There are definitely groupthink challenges:

· People hold back from expressing their point of view, especially when that POV is different from the group or from a senior leader in the session

· A few people dominate the discussion and influence all the decisions

· The group lacks perspective because they are so plugged into their own thinking and as a result, are unable to see their vulnerabilities

· Regression to the mean as people go out on a limb with new ideas, but eventually the group moves back to ideas closer to the status quo

· Lack of engagement because people sense the pressure to toe the corporate line and as a result, don’t speak up and therefore, are not heard

So, here’s what we’ve learned to inject fresh thinking into strategic discussions, ensure everyone contributes to the final output AND leave participants eager to mobilize their teams around the plan:

· Force inclusiveness before, during and after the process. Make sure the right people are in the room and that they all are heard. Find different ways for them to participate both in and out of the session. · Ask questions that challenge assumptions. This is easier as a third party. You must challenge existing assumptions, expose the many sides of an argument, help people build on their own ideas and consider new and different ways of thinking. · Know when to speed up AND when to slow down decision-making. Sometimes better output comes from having to make fast decisions, where overthinking shuts down the quantity of thoughts. On the other hand, there are times when people need time to digest ideas before they dive in and start building or evaluating them. · Add some levity. People are more creative when they can relax a little and let go of any tension they feel coming into the meeting or during it.

Use these tips to get better output from team discussions. These principles apply whether you are running a once a year strategy session or a more everyday team check-in. What could you do differently in your next meeting to stamp out groupthink and unleash the power of independent thinking aimed at a common goal?

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