I think Group Think LO29229

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@postino.up.ac.za)
Date: 09/25/02

Replying to LO29220 --

Dear Organlearners,

Jan Lelie <janlelie@wxs.nl> writes:

>I'm not against Group Think. I love GT. I use GT. I
>suppose 80% or more of our problems can be and are
>being solved very effective with Group Think.
>I do not want to fight the problem of GT - it is no use,
>you might as well fight GleTschers. I do suppose
>however that we should be aware of GT . Every member
>of a group has the right to signal Group Think and this
>shouldn't be brushed aside by any leader.

Greetings dear Jan,

My personal experience with Group-Think is that it is a most dubious term.
As far back as thirty years ago (when i began to think about these things)
people consider it as stereotyped, conformist, mindset thinking. I still
remember negative claims like "The communists and socialists want to brain
wash us with Group Think and then to control our minds with it." Here in
South Africa even the dialogue was shot down as an example of Group Think.
A polemic debate was thought to be the good thing.

Obviously, the term is much older than the thirty years that it has been
known to me. Then, suddenly, somewhere in the nineties with the rising of
Knowledge Management and Information Technology, the term "Group Think"
was used to refer to "organisational thinking" to distinguish it from
"individual thinking". I think that someone specific coined the term Group
Think in this sense, but i have yet to find out who did it.

I personally do not like setting "organisational thinking" and "individual
thinking" as a dialectical (opposing) pair. They are rather the two sides
of the human condition, i.e., a complementary pair. When one of the pair
becomes overstressed to the detriment of the other, it is called
"collectivism" or "individualism".

As for your claim "80% or more of our problems can be and are being solved
very effective with Group Think", i think that it depends very much on the
culture in which those problems are imbedded. In the Netherlands as for
the perhaps rest of Europe and North America, individualism reigns. Thus
it can be expected that since organisational thinking has been
impoverished, problems will appear as a result of it. But here in Africa
collectivism reigns. Thus most of the problems here require individual
learning to become solved!

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <amdelange@postino.up.ac.za> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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