Groupthink explains our tendency to favor harmony or conformity in a group, which can result in poor quality decision making.
Groupthink occurs when the thinking of a group slides towards the views of the dominant group member.
In any organization with a hierarchy you’ll probably find groupthink to be common. You might be able to recall times when you just nodded along with others even though you disagreed - not wanting to speak up? Or maybe you were leading and no one seemed to question you on a decision that turned out to be quite wrong?
Sometimes groupthink occurs unconsciously
and it’s not very obvious. Other times it’s more conscious
and can be kinda gross to witness. (Have you ever had a colleague who terms like bootlicking
or brown nosing
were made for?)
Either way, deliberate or not, it’s groupthink.
What is the HiPPO effect?
HiPPO stands for highest paid person’s opinion.
Maybe it’s a board member, or a CEO or some other executive. This person’s opinion is at risk of dominating all judgements and decision making - and this is the HiPPO effect.
Sometimes the HiPPO can be a driver of groupthink. When I’ve been in organizations with a HiPPO problem I’ve noticed a couple of subtle signs. Communication tends to be more hidden, rooms go silent the HiPP arrives, and there are a lot more direct messages via email/Slack or equivalent instead of broadcast activity. This is not good!