How do you combat this known dysfunction of a group in Scrum teams?
Groupthink is defined best I think by Irving Janis, who studied it's effects in the Bay of Pigs invasion, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the escalation of the Vietnam War.
Groupthink - 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.President Kennedy's thigh-knit group got caught up in groupthink, but learned their lesson and changed their group-decision making process by the time they dealt with the Cuban missile crises. A small proof of a learning organization.
- Irving Janis. Victims of Groupthink. 1972, p. 9.
Did President Bush's group learn there groupthink lessons?
Janis gives 8 indicators of groupthink:
- Invulnerability - many members of the ingroup have an illusion of invulnerability.
- Rationale - they rationalize away warnings and other negative feedback.
- Morality - they have a belief in inherent morality on their side.
- Stereotypes - they hold stereotyped views of opposing groups leadership.
- Pressure - they apply direct pressure to any dissenting individual.
- Self-censorship - they avoid deviating from group consensus.
- Unanimity - they share an illusion of unanimity.
- Mindguards - they appoint themselves as guards to protect the leader from adverse information.
- assign the role of critical evaluator to each member & reinforced by leader's actions
- leaders should adopt an impartial stance at beginning
- set-based design; separate groups working the same issue
- require members to discuss with their associates
- outside experts invited to challenge the views
- assign a devil's advocate for general evaluations
- devote a sizable block of time to rival orgs. responses & warning signals
- subdivide the group to work under different chairpersons
- hold a second-chance meeting - encourage doubts to be rasied