A couple of thoughts on the fiasco at Volkswagen. If you somehow missed it last week, here is a summary. Yes, the CEO has apologized and been fired. Massive fines, criminal investigations, and a worldwide recall for diesel engine vehicles only hints at the trouble ahead for the company. What a mess.
The issue to consider here is…how does a leadership team allow this practice to take hold? Surely people knew. This scandal was too complex, too massive to be hidden from VW’s entire leadership team. They had to have known.
“Groupthink,” in which teams stop challenging decisions, stop asking questions, go along to get along, despite what should be obvious signals is probably more common than we’d like. When present, “Groupthink” causes teams to miss obvious signals, to accept what is clearly inappropriate, or avoid conflict because of things like charisma or charm. “Groupthink” is the cause of many inadequate decisions and, as we will see in the days ahead with VW, can be the source of long term pain, even death, of organizations.
Think your team might be prone to “Group think?” Here’s a short article which addresses 4 great questions to ask your leadership team at your “Monday meeting” this week:
- Do we have varied viewpoints and voices in our group/team?
- Are we open to dissent — or do we tend to shut it down?
- Are we insular? Do you we put up walls?
- Have we shared our plan with members of the organization, that can offer another perspective?
Make quality, values-based, decisions. Avoid “Groupthink.” Lead the Way!
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