When we work in a group than as social animals, our thinking and decision get influence by the thinking of the group. Slowly we start losing our own identity of thought process. People who are opposed to the decisions or overriding opinions of the group as a whole frequently remain quiet, preferring to keep the peace rather than disrupt the uniformity of the crowd. Those who question the group are often seen as disloyal or traitorous.
If you ever find yourself in a tight, unanimous group, you must speak your mind, even if your team does not like it. Question tacit assumptions, even if you risk expulsion from the warm nest. And, if you lead a group, appoint someone as devil’s advocate. He will not be the most popular member of the team, but he might be the most important.
Business – When a team member / BOD expresses an opposing opinion or questions the rationale behind a decision, the rest of the team members work together to pressure or penalize that person. This will lead to a lack of innovation or lack of avoidance of risk. Businesses will follow what the industry is doing. Businesses should appoint a person who acts as an opponent of any view which can help to generate different perspectives and better decision making. The company also has to work towards protecting that person. Because uniform group sees different opinion and a person as an inferior, also treat him differently. They need to allows team members to contribute individually, with no knowledge of a group view, and with little or no penalty for disagreement. This can be very difficult in today’s era of technology. But one can keep a penalty for similar views which can invite different opinions.
Investment – When everyone comes to us for investing in a particular company, we have to work as a devil advocate to counter that investment idea. Because that will help us to see positive as well as the negative side of the company. If we get to agree with what the group has decided then it may be possible that we ended up with huge losses. And only seeing one positive or negative side of an investment can be harmful to us in the longer term. We need to see both the side properly with all supported data without getting biased on one side. If we like any investment then have to prepare a document which says why we should avoid investment. And if we dislike any investment then have to prepare a document which says why we should invest in that, what lead to miss out of the opportunity.
This entire series will be review with various examples from books which are “Thinking, Fast and Slow” and “The Art of Thinking Clearly“.