Thirty Ways to Resist Groupthink

  1. Encourage open discussion.
  2. Examine all alternatives.
  3. Bring in new perspectives.
  4. Develop a culture where dissent is appreciated.
  5. Dissent should not be misinterpreted as disrespect for the group’s consensus.
  6. Designate a “Devil’s Advocate” by assigning someone to ask hard questions.
  7. Rotate the group’s Devil’s Advocate every meeting.
  8. Ask each member, in some sequence, to play the role of “critical evaluator.”
  9. Teach the art of adversarial conversation.
  10. Force members to present contradicting views (objections or doubts).
  11. Focus on sensitive subjects by revisiting tough decisions.
  12. Challenge assumptions and arguments even after decisions are made.
  13. Appreciate the benefits of bickering.
  14. Reward creative deviance (even if not successful).
  15. Reward critical thinking.
  16. Reward those who are shown to speak truth (with hindsight).
  17. Do not assume that silence means agreement.
  18. Leaders should avoid giving an early opinion.
  19. Do not come to early consensus.
  20. Take time to think through major issues.
  21. Rotate job positions.
  22. Cast jobs against type to disrupt an “old boy” network.
  23. When the stereotypical “yes-man” emerges, expose him/her.
  24. Assign several independent groups to work on the same issue.
  25. Divide the group into subgroups and have each critique the others’ ideas.
  26. Develop competition among subgroups.
  27. Invite new members into the group (preferably people not well known).
  28. Encourage members to discuss the group’s ideas with trusted people outside of the group (respecting confidentiality).
  29. Test new ideas on other, independent groups.
  30. Run a pilot program (where applicable).
Dr. Robert Lawrence Kuhn is an international corporate strategist, investment banker and expert on China. Since 1989, he has worked with China’s senior leaders and advised the Chinese government on matters of economic policy, industrial policy, mergers and acquisitions, science and technology, media and culture, Sino-U.S. relations, and a variety of international business matters. Dr. Kuhn advises leading multinational companies, CEOs and C-Suite executives, regarding formulating and implementing China strategies in a variety of sectors, including science and technology, energy and resources, industrial, media and entertainment, healthcare / medical / pharmaceuticals, consumer products, and financial services. He works with major Chinese companies on structuring their capital markets financing and M&A activities.