Groupthink: According to Wikipedia, Groupthink can be defined as “a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.”
The term was coined in 1952 by William Whyte in Fortune magazine. After 57 years, you would think that people would “get it” – especially government and large corporations. They don’t.
Groupthink has been responsible for things such as the Bay of Pigs and the Challenger disaster. One might argue that George Bush’s presidency was mired in Groupthink, Iraq being the biggest one. But the story doesn’t end there. Our economy over the past 10 years is another great (but sad) example of Groupthink. The housing bubble, the banks that “couldn’t fail” and the idea that we’re all going to get rich if you just buy a house. All…. Groupthink.
Wait! There’s more!! The auto industry in America was (and still is!!!!) fraught with Groupthink. They have outmoded business models and just don’t get that the world has changed. Their inability to break free of this is the writing on the wall that they will eventually fail. This also includes the unions who represent the workers at these factories. You cannot expect to get rich, by working less hours and getting more benefits. There is a cost to everything.
What’s next. I have two predictions. The first is the airline industry. They don’t get it either. Outdated pricing models and poor customer service, along with the rising cost of oil are going to force the large carriers such as United, American and Delta out of business. I can see the government saying those companies are too big too fail too. Too bad Pan Am couldn’t have stuck around for a few decades more, they could have gotten bailed out too. The survivors? Companies like Southwest. They get it. They don’t do business the “old school” way.
What made me think of this at this time? I was reading an article in the Sacramento Bee that asked, “What do you lose if newspapers don’t survive?” Really? Nothing! Times have changed. The only thing keeping newspapers alive are people my age or older. We remember when reading a newspaper at the breakfast table reminded us of Ozzie and Harriet or the Brady Bunch. You know, something that good Americans do everyday. That was then. Today? My kids are pretty well informed, but they don’t get their information from the paper. They get it from the Internet, the television or their cell phones. Newspapers, while informative, are too slow.
If we are serious about “going Green”, then I think we should reduce the number of newspapers dramatically. Am I wrong? I don’t think so. If you consider that newspapers are losing subscribers in record numbers, it’s just a matter of time before there are just a few left. Remember the typewriter? Uh – huh. Same thing.
But, the newspaper industry is trying to argue that they have value. It is Groupthink. They are in denial that the world has changed… for good. Yes, there are many bright men and women who work there. Yes, they have good insights and can write very well. But… the vehicle of transmission is no longer viable.
What about you? Is your company going through Groupthink?
All the best, All the time, JT