Pushing Past Groupthink

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“An advance in a single field never triggers substantial change. Change is triggered by the cross impact of things operating together.” –Keith Sawyer ‘Group Genius’

We live in a time where we have open and broad access to a multiplicity of ideas and thinking.  And while this expansiveness of contact and connection can be exhilarating, it can be just as overwhelming and confining.  Especially when we choose to limit our interactions and access to a very limited palate, to a very insulated and uniformed connectedness.

But for many, too much infusion of diversified thinking and ideas can feel chaotic and disorganized. So we pull back and retreat from this openness.  Especially when it makes our world feel muddled, messy and disordered.  We push back in the opposite direction.  We look for safety in conformity.  We look to diminish any and all dissonance and conflict from the organizational landscape.  In fact, we go as far as to believe it is the obligation and duty of the leader to eradicate this discord and engage our institutions in harmonious agreement.

And while that creates veneers of niceness and congeniality in our teams and organizations, it also…

Triggers the eventual demise of any and all creative and innovative thinking and ideas.

What we have to realize, is that the more we wring out the positive conflict that arises from diversified thinking and ideas in our organizations and institutions, the more we mainstream our connected platforms and third spaces…the less and less creative and innovative our individuals, our teams and our organizations eventually become.  Eliminating cognitive conflict confines us to homogenous and harmonized groupthink.

And unfortunately, it is difficult to collide a diversity of ideas and thinking in an environment of groupthink.

In a time when creative and innovative thinking, ideas and problem-solving are at a premium, we need individuals and teams that can effectively engage positive cognitive conflict.  We need leaders who permeate their organizations and institutions with a multiplicity of thinking and ideas that cross-pollinate and dissolve environments of groupthink.  We need leaders who are planting much more bountiful learning harvests across their organizational ideascape.

“The most surprising creative insights always result rom connections among different bodies of knowledge…” -Keith Sawyer ‘Group Genius’

One thought on “Pushing Past Groupthink

  1. David, if I was still teaching senior English I would include this piece in a study of Owell’s “Nineteen Eighty-four.” It would make a nice companion to the stock discussions around totalitarian dictatorships and help the students to see how themes can transcend time: a nice connection to the digital age. Thank you for sharing.

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