Groupthink and implications for designing your Customer Experience


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People in groups invariably produce poor decisions

Numerous studies documented here have found that when groups meet up to make a decision, people generally share information that the majority of the group already knows – rarely does anyone bring anything new ideas or insights to the table. Participants have been found to keep group information more top of mind, are concerned about social hierarchies and most likely enter the meeting with a prejudgement on how they see the outcome or proposition.

All three of these influences stagnate any productive novel thoughts. Psyblog has written an extensive post on the subject, highlighting past studies documenting group failures, as well as some of the studies that have found how groups can share information more effectively (seen below)

Here are some of the attributes of groups that do tend to divulge more of that critical unshared information with each other (fromWittenbaum et al., 2004):

  • Groups where members disagree and who display lessgroupthink are more likely to share unpooled information.
  • When people are told to try and recall relevant information before the meeting, this makes them more likely to mention facts that only they know.
  • Members of a group should be made aware of each other’s expertise, so they know (broadly speaking) what everyone else knows.
  • The longer meetings go on, the more likely that people will recall previously unshared information (unfortunately!).
  • People are more likely to share if they have a higher status in the group. So to encourage lower status members to share, their expertise needs to be specifically acknowledged to the group.

When your organisation deals with any aspect of your Customer Experience, how often do you bring a new thought to the meeting? How often do you bring in a new customer perspective to the problem? When you’re next in a meeting on how to improve customer retention, why don’t you try and bring some fresh thinking from some loyal customers?

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments on groupthink, poor meeting style and methods you use to be more productive in planning your customer experience.

Thanks to Psyblog for the provocation

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colin Shaw
Colin is an original pioneer of Customer Experience. LinkedIn has recognized Colin as one of the ‘World's Top 150 Business Influencers’ Colin is an official LinkedIn "Top Voice", with over 280,000 followers & 80,000 subscribed to his newsletter 'Why Customers Buy'. Colin's consulting company Beyond Philosophy, was recognized by the Financial Times as ‘one of the leading consultancies’. Colin is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast, which is rated in the top 2% of podcasts.


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