Managing team dynamics is a critical success factor that every project manager needs to not only about but rather become skilled in. As part of managing this aspect of the project, I have often observed that one of the most dangerous behaviors that puts the project at significant risk is “groupthink.” Wikipedia has the following definition for the term:

“It is the mode of thinking that happens when the desire for harmony in a decision-making group overrides a realistic appraisal of alternatives. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints.”

While it is important to recognize that groupthink is taking place in order to address its ramifications, there are measures that executives and leaders can take to help reduce the likelihood of it happening.  These policies can be very ridged and formal or flexible and casual.   They can include laws that governments pass demanding diversity for instance or something as simple as encouraging team members to talk about their project with other practitioners in the organization.  The bottom line however, is that the vast majority, if not all, of these measures are temporary.  Sooner or later the group becomes assimilated and will champion one cause or another.  Fortunately, (well, perhaps unfortunately in the context of groupthink) even the most diverse and dispersed groups can figure out a way to better work together, which comes at the expense of risking groupthink.

The issue then is not composition of teams or feedback on their performance.  The best way to combat groupthink is to constantly introduce new players into the field and requesting as many as passible of the group to eventually transition.  While this might seem as high degree flux in the organization, ultimately it benefits everyone.