The evils of groupthink and the risk to all Social media users

AKA “ Say hello to someone”
Power to think
The most spectacularly creative people in many fields are often introverted, according to studies by the psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Gregory Feist. They’re extroverted enough to exchange and advance ideas, but see themselves as independent and individualistic. They’re not joiners by nature.” NYtimes SUSAN CAIN JAN. 13, 2012

Power to innovate
No great life-changing, or world-changing invention has ever come about as a result of market research. Whatever the agile evangelists tell you, the reason for success in this area is not what they think it is. Asking the customer is important but it is not innovation. It is a stark and unavoidable fact that when Henry Ford asked a carriage owner what he needed from transport, he replied along the lines of; ”A horse that doesn’t foul the road”, or “A nice warm fire in my cab”. He never mentioned anything resembling a motor car and he never would either.
Try to imagine our world without the legacy of Henry Ford
In fact I would argue that lack of this type of thinking is why we have moved from the single blade razor to two, three, four blades and who knows where this will end. No there is definitely nothing much to be gained by innovators from hanging around in large groups or spending their day exchanging messages of one sort or another or asking customers. Watching customers is different, but that’s a different blog.

Decision making power
Making decisions is the toughest part of running a business, a department, a team. It is tough because if there was a safe answer it would not need a decision. Let’s face it if you are in a room on a cold winter’s day and the door blows open allowing rain and cold wind into the room, nobody needs to make a decision about what to do, now do they?
Decisions happen when there are several options and imperfect information and someone needs to make a call. Decisions involve risk management and playing the averages, but most of all they require taking responsibility and having the confidence to do so, i.e. leadership.
So what happens when you ask a committee to make a decision? Well the commonest thing is that they decide to close the door, just after the last piece of furniture has blown away and the rain has shorted out the electricity, but often they make no decision, or if they all belong to a particular religion, group, union just about anything could happen, it could end in a brawl. If there is a bully in the group they will guess what he wants and pretend that is what they want, but he won’t of course be accountable. The simple answer is don’t do it if there is any other option. Fake it if you absolutely must.
“In big business and national politics, groupthink has emerged as one of the most damaging spectres of our time. Unquestioning corporate cultures have been blamed for scandals ranging from Volkswagen’s emissions-test rigging to the sexism controversies that have surrounded Uber and American Apparel. Last year, commentators accused hive minds on social networks of scuppering open debate in the run-up to the UK’s general election. But does groupthink always require such a large canvas to flourish?” Economia 22 June 2016

Power to compete
Is there any industry left where it is not an accepted policy (among the group) to recruit from within the industry and close competitors? . If you believe Volkswagen were the only ones fiddling the figures you are even more naïve than I could have credited you for. Check out where the senior executives of all the other Auto businesses learned their trade and developed their MO and you will have a map of who else is doing it. The fact is that behaviour patterns, but especially abuses spread like wildfire across industries and then gradually leak outside. Why? Because to continue with bad behaviour, it has to become accepted as the norm. You don’t need me to make a list, everyone has a huge list of such behaviours they could rattle off, if you are stuck, just start with a google search for “*ism”.
Competing in any market in the modern uber-competitive environment demands that you differentiate strongly and then communicate this difference effectively. Naturally it has to be a difference your customers value, but we have limited space to fill today . . .
Imagine how successful you will be at differentiation if all of your thought processes are shared (perhaps hourly) with your competitors and you can’t remember the last original thought you had?

Power to recruit
A note from the head of business change to HR reads:
“ I need a consultant to help with this important programme of change. Find me someone from within the industry, we need someone who will fit in with the culture and . . .”
The only organisation I ever worked for that is no longer around used to do exactly this. Their Achilles heal was that they were all from an industry where they had never learned to make decisions, but whenever they sought an outsider to help them, it began with “You guessed it “.
Social media could well be the most destructive force in modern times
Let’s forget about politicians playing to the baser forms of humanity just to get votes and all the evils we are forewarned about. Think Brexit, Trump , I’ll leave the list to you.
When is the last time you saw a real conversation happening on any social media platform? Well I can answer it for you with a fair degree of confidence. The answer is either never, or not for a number of years. Let’s ignore all the Hootsuite jockeys and other fakes dumping garbage on to the internet all day every day and those paying a King’s ransom to look important, the remainder are following the “groupthink” approach to social media in their sleep. Pretending to be interested in the things they are pretending to be interested in so that they appear to fit the imagined norm and
saying the things they guess the other “normal” people would expect them to say, or rather believe they are expected to say. I hope I didn’t confuse you. You could struggle along with these thoughts for a few minutes and probably end up dizzy, or maybe you’d prefer to grow a few brain cells and “say hello to someone”. Here is the big secret waiting to get out; when they are not faking it, they are all human just like you, they are just scared to let it show. That is my new theme for the remainder of 2016, “ Say hello to someone”. Or just in case you haven’t been paying attention: communicate