Potential presentation idea: Groupthink: the silent organization killer

  • Ray K

    SSC-Dedicated

    Points: 31016

    At this rate, I might be able to make a career out of professional development presentations.

    I did some research back in grad school about groupthink (for those of you who don't know what that is, click here) and how it can destroy or devalue an organization. It just occurred to me that it might make a good PD topic.

    Some things I'd likely discuss: why groupthink is dangerous, examples of groupthink, why groupthink is not the same as a consensus decision, and how you can combat groupthink (constructive debate, opposing viewpoints, devil's advocates, etc.).

    (Note: yes, I do recognize how this applies to today's poisoned political landscape. I do NOT intend this to be a political presentation, and I am NOT endorsing any political viewpoint. The purpose of this presentation is strictly professional, not political, development.)

    What thinkest thou, folks?

    +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
    ‌Check out my blog at https://pianorayk.wordpress.com/[/url]

  • Orlando Colamatteo

    SSC Guru

    Points: 182207

    I'd attend. I think there is a razor thin line between being a team player and carrying out the broader plan even when some implementation details may be suboptimal and being a malcontent. Just like I think there is a thin line between consensus decision making and groupthink. I feel like "groupthink" is bandied about as a derogatory term at times by malcontents to describe a consensus decision where they may have been in the minority. I would like to see all the facts laid out with examples and am willing to figure out I am wrong about everything I just said.

    __________________________________________________________________________________________________
    There are no special teachers of virtue, because virtue is taught by the whole community. --Plato

  • Grant Fritchey

    SSC Guru

    Points: 395227

    But, but, but, we've ALWAYS done it that way.

    ----------------------------------------------------
    The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood...
    Theodore Roosevelt

    The Scary DBA
    Author of: SQL Server 2017 Query Performance Tuning, 5th Edition and SQL Server Execution Plans, 3rd Edition
    Product Evangelist for Red Gate Software

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 714093

    This is interesting. I think it would be low priority compared to other sessions, but I would be intrigued. I think this might be a good one for the Pro-Dev VC or a user group to gauge how people react.

  • Ray K

    SSC-Dedicated

    Points: 31016

    Steve Jones - SSC Editor (3/30/2016)


    This is interesting. I think it would be low priority compared to other sessions, but I would be intrigued. I think this might be a good one for the Pro-Dev VC or a user group to gauge how people react.

    I've been targeting mainly SQL Saturdays, mainly because that's the environment I know and with which I'm familiar and comfortable. I've toyed with the idea of contributing my presentations to other groups and conferences, but I have no idea to whom I should talk, what websites I should visit, or where I should go.

    In addition to my local SQL user group[/url], I'm also involved with a local UX/UI user group[/url]. I've considered contributing my presentations there as well. I've also considered getting involved with a local .NET user group, but I've also been wary about overextending myself (and my schedule).

    +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
    ‌Check out my blog at https://pianorayk.wordpress.com/[/url]

  • Lynn Pettis

    SSC Guru

    Points: 442093

    That would be an interesting one.

  • Ray K

    SSC-Dedicated

    Points: 31016

    I came up with an abstract. Let me know what you people think.

    Groupthink is a phenomenon that is highly destructive -- and all too common in group dynamics. In this presentation, we will talk about the problems associated with groupthink. Some ideas we will discuss include the history behind groupthink research, what makes it destructive, some examples of groupthink, why groupthink is not the same as consensus decision-making, and what you can do to combat groupthink.

    +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
    ‌Check out my blog at https://pianorayk.wordpress.com/[/url]

  • Ray K

    SSC-Dedicated

    Points: 31016

    Ray K (3/30/2016)


    I came up with an abstract. Let me know what you people think.

    Groupthink is a phenomenon that is highly destructive -- and all too common in group dynamics. In this presentation, we will talk about the problems associated with groupthink. Some ideas we will discuss include the history behind groupthink research, what makes it destructive, some examples of groupthink, why groupthink is not the same as consensus decision-making, and what you can do to combat groupthink.

    Anyone? Anyone? Newmann???

    +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
    ‌Check out my blog at https://pianorayk.wordpress.com/[/url]

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 714093

    Sorry, it's a good abstract.

  • Grant Fritchey

    SSC Guru

    Points: 395227

    Ray K (3/30/2016)


    I came up with an abstract. Let me know what you people think.

    Groupthink is a phenomenon that is highly destructive -- and all too common in group dynamics. In this presentation, we will talk about the problems associated with groupthink. Some ideas we will discuss include the history behind groupthink research, what makes it destructive, some examples of groupthink, why groupthink is not the same as consensus decision-making, and what you can do to combat groupthink.

    I'd like to see a stronger "this is what you can do at home" delivery line at the end of the abstract. However, that's just what I always like to see in abstracts.

    ----------------------------------------------------
    The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood...
    Theodore Roosevelt

    The Scary DBA
    Author of: SQL Server 2017 Query Performance Tuning, 5th Edition and SQL Server Execution Plans, 3rd Edition
    Product Evangelist for Red Gate Software

  • Eddie Wuerch

    SSChampion

    Points: 12256

    Ray K (3/30/2016)


    I came up with an abstract. Let me know what you people think.

    Groupthink is a phenomenon that is highly destructive -- and all too common in group dynamics. In this presentation, we will talk about the problems associated with groupthink. Some ideas we will discuss include the history behind groupthink research, what makes it destructive, some examples of groupthink, why groupthink is not the same as consensus decision-making, and what you can do to combat groupthink.

    Note: use the abstract to pull me into the session, not just let me know it's there

    A couple things that can punch this up:

    1. You use the word 'groupthink' six times in there without defining it. .

    Groupthink, <include a quick definition of the term as it applies to your topic>, is a ...

    2. Could I be affected? Would I benefit from attending? Choose frequency terms based on research, and present those numbers in the session if possible:

    Groupthink, <include a quick definition of the term as it applies to your topic>, is a phenomenon frequent|common|occasional pattern of group behavior. Studies have shown at least half|most|XX% teams|departments|organizations waste XX% time and fail to deliver on XX% projects as a direct result.

    3. There is maybe one session goal in your abstract. Tell me what I can do with what you present. For a typical one-hour SQLSat presentation, three goals is plenty (one hour is usually way shorter than you think). Goals are action verbs, like 'describe', 'define', and 'solve', compared to passive verbs like 'learn'. These three goals not only clarify the abstract, but should be the specific targets of your completed presentation. This fits well as the last sentence of the abstract, with a phrase like 'Attend this session and you will be able to...'

    4. BTW, the best presentations tell a story. Have you used the techniques you will present to combat groupthink in the past? What was the benefit? Weave that story through the presentation. How did you recognize it (and how can I recognize it)? What was the impact? How did you cause change (and how can I cause change)? Start the presentation with an organization in disarray, end it with the results.

    5. I personally like to open an abstract with a question the sets the hook:

    Have you ever wanted to try something new or different to solve a problem but were stopped by a culture of the status quo? You may be a victim of groupthink!

    Here's a sample:

    Have you ever wanted to try something new or different to solve a problem but were stopped by a culture of the status quo? You may be a victim of groupthink! Groupthink is a team dynamic that stresses conformity and the status quo over individual ideas and trying new things, and has been shown to affect many development teams. It can be quite destructive, with productivity loss, burnout, and stagnation in the face of a better-performing competitor hurting the bottom line and stalling careers. But there is a better way, and you can lead the charge. Attend this session and you will be able to identify groupthink and its penalties, drive innovation in the face of it, and prove the benefits of your efforts.

    -Eddie

    Eddie Wuerch
    MCM: SQL

  • Ray K

    SSC-Dedicated

    Points: 31016

    Wow, talk about comprehensive feedback. (I suppose I should be careful what I ask for!) Can I just use your sample and be done with it? 🙂

    In all seriousness -- I definitely agree with #1. Let me see what I can do about some kind of definition. I also understand what you're saying about #2 and #3. Let me take some time to digest that a bit.

    As for the other points: when I'm trying to teach a subject, my preference is to facilitate discussion (although my disaster recovery talk is an exception -- that one is more a narrative and does tell a story). I like to get my audience involved and engaged, and I've gotten very good feedback for using that approach in my other talks. This is not to discount the "storytelling" -- I'm all for it -- it's just that trying to get the audience to participate is more my M.O., and I try to use that approach whenever possible.

    And as for the sample abstract, I mainly have two issues. First, my thinking is that for an abstract, it's too verbose. To me, this type of abstract needs to capture attention at a quick glance (although I do recognize there are exceptions). I do want to make sure that I highlight certain points, so the trick for me is to get the person interested in as few words as possible.

    Second -- and more simply -- it just doesn't sound like me. 🙂

    Thanks for the great feedback! I'll see what I can do with this!

    +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
    ‌Check out my blog at https://pianorayk.wordpress.com/[/url]

Viewing 12 posts - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic. Login to reply