Avoiding Groupthink in your next Brainstorming session

Having a team successfully brainstorming for any length of time is a considerable task. Yet, brainstorming is essential in many creative aspects of a company. It might be for new product development, potential changes in the market your product is based in, or new creative ideas for marketing campaigns. A company’s success can sometimes largely depend on productive brainstorming meetings, which can add pressure to organising one. Something that can kill these sessions is groupthink. In this article, we will look at what groupthink is, and look at a few ideas to combat it when running a brainstorming session.


Groupthink is something that goes beyond the business world. It is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when a group of people desire harmony or conformity above all else. This leads to dysfunctional decision-making outcomes. This happens due to an, albeit possibly subconscious, wish to minimize conflict, which leads to the stage of critical evaluation being overlooked. As a result of this, alternate, and possibly more creative, views are usually suppressed.


It is clear to see how this can apply to the business world, and especially within creative teams. Yet, there are measures and techniques that can be taken to prevent groupthink, here are a few ideas:


Plan for it: You should never expect a creative meeting to not have the possibility to merge into groupthink. Therefore, when planning a meeting think what possible indicators of group think there might be, and ways to reduce it if it occurs.


Debating as a key element: From the word go, you need to make it clear that debate is actively encouraged. Explain that getting your own way with no debate can be great in the short run, but to lead to major problems in the long run. Remember to respond positively, encouragingly and cooperatively when something is relevantly critically questioned.


Diverse personalities: When preparing a creative meeting, consider the collective personalities that will be present. Making sure they are all different can go a long way in making sure a groupthink consensus isn’t occurring. These different styles of thinking being present can create simultaneously a wider spectrum of creativity and of critical evaluation.


Consider branching out: Often, decisions made through creative sessions can have wider ramifications to a company as a whole. So, it should be considered if it is relevant for representatives for different departments that are affected to be present. This can allow for a deeper insight into specific areas that might be overlooked by those who are just based in creative. You shouldn’t necessarily plan this for every creative meeting. As doing so, on such a regular basis, can often be counterproductive.

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