As many leaders and companies have become risk-averse amidst unprecedented levels of uncertainty — resulting from the 2008 financial crisis, increased regulation and other changing conditions — it’s no surprise that their growth and innovation is waning. What leaders fail to realize, however, is the stagnancy resulting from not taking any risk or making any tough decisions can be even more dangerous than taking chances with traditional “risk” or investment. In reality, this “comfort zone” will not be so comfortable after all when competitors forge ahead, innovate and adapt to better serve customers, and leave the laggards in the dust.
When leaders and teams lack a robust decision-making process, groupthink — a common bias that afflicts teams where team members tend to conform to a prevailing view — often takes hold. This leads teams to a lack of challenging and limited imagination in discussing or seeking non-conventional solutions. Such teams tend to stay in a “safe” zone and are dominated by one or two strong opinion leaders. They lack innovation and strategic thinking.
To combat groupthink on their teams, leaders can employ a few tips or ground rules:
While groupthink is just one of many factors that can stifle innovation, by identifying where and how it is tainting the decision-making process, and taking action to inspire progressive thinking, leaders can begin to jumpstart growth efforts and more creative thinking with their teams.