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Saturday, 9 November 2013

The 10th Man, the Zombie and the Ostrich...

So far in Denial that the Crocodiles are biting...

Swissair was so successful as an Airline that it was called the "flying bank". The Board of the company believed themselves to be so good that they were invulnerable. 

Essentially they became a "mutual appreciation society" and developed levels of arrogance and delusional self belief that led them to adopt strategies, such as the ill fated "Hunter Strategy" and take risks that would eventually lead to the collapse of the company in 2001.

How could this happen...?  - simple Denial; no one thought to argue or contradict the people at the top, those who did were fired...

Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon, the symptoms of which mean that people in groups or teams will place so much value on group cohesion and harmony that they avoid all internal conflict and disagreements.

Irving Janis described the phenomenon back in the 1970's; in his 1982 book of the same name he describes the Three Types and Eight Symptoms of Groupthinking;

Type 1 -  Overestimation's of the group — its power and morality
  • Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking. 
  • Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions. 
 Type 2 - Closed-mindedness 
  • Rationalising warnings that might challenge the group's assumptions. 
  • Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, biased, spiteful, impotent, or stupid.
Type 3 - Pressures toward uniformity
  • Self Censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus. 
  • Illusions of unanimity among group members, silence is viewed as agreement. 
  • Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of "disloyalty" 
  • Mind guards— self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting information.
Classically this happens in Cults, Gangs & Religions in addition to Boards, Teams and Franchises...

It is a disturbing paradox of many businesses that their Success defines their path to Failure...

Zombie Lessons...

In the Movie World War Z - there were only two countries that were able to stem the tide of marauding Zombies;

1. North Korea - they simply removed the teeth from everyone so that the "infection" could not be spread by people biting each other. 

2. Israel - they used the 10th Man Rule - in a group of 10 advisors, when ever 9 of them were in agreement, the 10th Man would be instructed to attempt to convince them that an alternative strategy should be considered.

Essentially the 10th Man's job was to disrupt the symptoms of Groupthinking...

Ostrich beats the 10th Man...

In business and in life it is all to easy to assume to stay in our Comfort Zone and assume the Ostrich position - pretending that if we simply ignore reality, it will somehow go away. 

We need to get uncomfortable to get our best and most sustainable results, listen to the voices and ideas from others, drop the ego and stay open to the possibility that we don't know everything.

1. Work - with People who don't always agree with you...
 
2. Bring - an outsider into your business...

3. Be - the 10th Man...

4. Keep - learning and upgrading your skills...

5. Drop - the Ego and stay Open...

From Swissair to the Bay of Pigs, the dangers of Groupthinking are clear; don't allow the group to overwhelm your Results...

Find out how working with David could bring the 10th Man to You, your Team and your Organisation. Simply drop him a note here, or email to davidholland@resultsrulesok.com
to arrange a time to explore the possibilities..

Alternatively you could comfortably assume the Ostrich position...


Have a great week...

2 comments:

  1. It's not going to be easy being the 10th man - you're going to spend all your time looking at ar... ,(sorry, "bottoms").

    It's much easier waiting for some regulator or other to remove the teeth.

    Bottoms up !
    ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I wonder how many readers of this will recognise some of the error traits in their own organisations?

    ReplyDelete