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GroupthinkSteve Shore, MBA, PMP, CSSGB<br />Press to advance <br />to next slide.<br />
Introduction to Groupthink<br />2<br />
3<br />Groupthink: Background<br />Term from Yale social psychologist Irving Janis in 1972. <br />Researched why a team re...
Groupthink: Background con’d<br />Participants have need for consensus.<br />Alternatives not fully analyzed.<br />Decisio...
5<br />Groupthink: 8 Symptoms<br />A Highly Cohesive Group<br />1.	An illusion of invulnerability creates excessive optimi...
6<br />Groupthink: 8 Symptoms con’t<br />Closed-mindedness<br />3.	People rationalize in order to discount warnings or oth...
7<br />Groupthink: 8 Symptoms con’t<br />Pressures Toward Uniformity<br />5.	Shared illusion of unity.<br />6.	Minimize th...
8<br />Part 2: NASA’s History<br />
NASA’s Origins: The Space Race Begins<br />9<br />October 4, 1957: The Soviet Union launches Sputnik.<br />October 1, 1958...
10<br />Project Mercury 1961-1963<br />1958:  Project Mercury initiated. <br />Mercury 7 astronauts signed-up.<br />Alan S...
President Kennedy Sets the Stage<br />11<br />May 25, 1961: President Kennedy initiated the Apollo program in a speech to ...
12<br />Project Gemini 1962-1966<br />
13<br />Apollo 1 Setback<br />January 27, 1967:  Apollo 1 fire during launch simulation killed "Gus" Grissom, Ed White, an...
14<br />Apollo Program 1963-1972 <br />December 21, 1968:  Apollo 8 circles the moon.  Astronauts read from the Book of Ge...
History Made: Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969<br />15<br />
16<br />Apollo 13<br />
Successes in the 1970s<br />17<br />
The Shuttle Program Begins<br />18<br />
19<br />The 1980s<br />
20<br />The 1980s<br />
21<br />The Challenger Disaster: January 28, 1986<br />Mission STS-51L<br />
22<br />The Hubble Telescope Story<br />
The 1990s and the ISS<br />23<br />
24<br />The Columbia Disaster: February 1, 2003<br />Mission STS-107<br />
25<br />Part 3: Lessons Learned<br />
Evaluation of NASA’s Culture<br />Culture of invulnerability, built upon technological successes.  <br />26<br />Leadershi...
Evaluation of NASA’s Culture<br />27<br />Engineers felt they had to prove that situations were unsafe, rather than provin...
Evaluation of Challenger Disaster<br />Launch postponed 3 times. NASA fearful American public would regard agency as inept...
Evaluation of Columbia Disaster<br />Disaster tied to management not understanding the tradeoffs between the conflicting g...
Groupthink Symptoms Applied to Events<br />Having a Highly Cohesive Group:  The illusion of invulnerability creates excess...
Groupthink Symptoms Applied to Events<br />Hear no evil.  See no evil.  Speak no evil.  <br />31<br />There is a shared il...
32<br />Preventing Groupthink<br />Assign each member the role of “critical evaluator” with permission – and encouragement...
33<br />Summary<br />Mindset is to not rock the boat.  Group members avoid promoting viewpoints outside the comfort zone o...
34<br />References<br />Carveth, Rodney and Claire Ferraris.  NASA and the Columbia Disaster: Decision-making by groupthin...
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Groupthink_lecutre_final

  1. 1. GroupthinkSteve Shore, MBA, PMP, CSSGB<br />Press to advance <br />to next slide.<br />
  2. 2. Introduction to Groupthink<br />2<br />
  3. 3. 3<br />Groupthink: Background<br />Term from Yale social psychologist Irving Janis in 1972. <br />Researched why a team reaches an excellent decision one time, and a disastrous one the next. <br />Groupthink model designed to help teams prevent bad decisions.<br />
  4. 4. Groupthink: Background con’d<br />Participants have need for consensus.<br />Alternatives not fully analyzed.<br />Decision makers have desire to be an accepted member of a group. <br />4<br />
  5. 5. 5<br />Groupthink: 8 Symptoms<br />A Highly Cohesive Group<br />1. An illusion of invulnerability creates excessive optimism and encourages extreme risk taking.<br />Unquestioned belief in the group’s inherent morality. Members ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions.<br />
  6. 6. 6<br />Groupthink: 8 Symptoms con’t<br />Closed-mindedness<br />3. People rationalize in order to discount warnings or other information that might lead the members to reconsider their assumptions.<br />4. Stereotyped views of others.<br />
  7. 7. 7<br />Groupthink: 8 Symptoms con’t<br />Pressures Toward Uniformity<br />5. Shared illusion of unity.<br />6. Minimize the importance of counter-arguments.<br />7. Direct pressure on any member who expresses arguments against the group. <br />8. Members who protect the group from adverse information.<br />
  8. 8. 8<br />Part 2: NASA’s History<br />
  9. 9. NASA’s Origins: The Space Race Begins<br />9<br />October 4, 1957: The Soviet Union launches Sputnik.<br />October 1, 1958: Congress creates NASA. <br />
  10. 10. 10<br />Project Mercury 1961-1963<br />1958: Project Mercury initiated. <br />Mercury 7 astronauts signed-up.<br />Alan Shepard: In space on May 5, 1961 for 15 min, 28 seconds. <br />
  11. 11. President Kennedy Sets the Stage<br />11<br />May 25, 1961: President Kennedy initiated the Apollo program in a speech to Congress.<br />September 12, 1962: Speech to Rice University.<br />
  12. 12. 12<br />Project Gemini 1962-1966<br />
  13. 13. 13<br />Apollo 1 Setback<br />January 27, 1967: Apollo 1 fire during launch simulation killed "Gus" Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee. <br />A review board formed.<br />The board noted several organizational-related factors that contributed to the accident.<br />
  14. 14. 14<br />Apollo Program 1963-1972 <br />December 21, 1968: Apollo 8 circles the moon. Astronauts read from the Book of Genesis on December 24th. <br />
  15. 15. History Made: Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969<br />15<br />
  16. 16. 16<br />Apollo 13<br />
  17. 17. Successes in the 1970s<br />17<br />
  18. 18. The Shuttle Program Begins<br />18<br />
  19. 19. 19<br />The 1980s<br />
  20. 20. 20<br />The 1980s<br />
  21. 21. 21<br />The Challenger Disaster: January 28, 1986<br />Mission STS-51L<br />
  22. 22. 22<br />The Hubble Telescope Story<br />
  23. 23. The 1990s and the ISS<br />23<br />
  24. 24. 24<br />The Columbia Disaster: February 1, 2003<br />Mission STS-107<br />
  25. 25. 25<br />Part 3: Lessons Learned<br />
  26. 26. Evaluation of NASA’s Culture<br />Culture of invulnerability, built upon technological successes. <br />26<br />Leadership traditionally based on technical people that were degreed in hard sciences, which created a culture based on common attributes. <br />Promoted “better, faster, cheaper” not “quality, risk, and safety”.<br />Management had a pattern of ignoring or suppressing constructive conflict. <br />Management lost their ability to accept criticism, which led them to reject recommendations. <br />
  27. 27. Evaluation of NASA’s Culture<br />27<br />Engineers felt they had to prove that situations were unsafe, rather than proving things were safe. <br />No consensus on the definition of risk.<br />It is believed that the various project managers felt more accountable to their managers than to the overall shuttle program. <br />NASA managers evaded safety regulations in order to maintain the aggressive launch schedule.<br />
  28. 28. Evaluation of Challenger Disaster<br />Launch postponed 3 times. NASA fearful American public would regard agency as inept if delayed further. <br />28<br />Challenger launched at lowest temperature in shuttle program. <br />Morton Thiokol engineers argued they did not have enough data to determine if O-rings would properly work below 53°F. <br />Post-disaster analysis revealed probability of disaster > 99%.<br />Both NASA managers and engineers knew about O-ring design flaw since 1977, but never addressed the issue.<br />Poor communications were vague and open to interpretations. <br />The company stated that ‘‘lower temperatures are in the direction of badness for O-rings...” <br />Engineers at Rockwell International expressed concerns about ice buildup, but managers restated the concerns in a passive way, leading mission control to disregard the concerns. <br />
  29. 29. Evaluation of Columbia Disaster<br />Disaster tied to management not understanding the tradeoffs between the conflicting goals of cost, schedule, and safety. <br />29<br />Engineers knew the shuttle was being hit by foam on nearly every flight, but decided condition was of no immediate consequence, and might be a maintenance problem to be addressed at a later time. <br />Unfortunately, many of the checks-and-balances put in place after Challenger had been removed in the name of faster and cheaper. <br />On the mission’s 2nd day, engineers suspected there was damage to the orbiter. NASA managers decided to limit the investigation on the grounds that little could be done even if problems were found. <br />
  30. 30. Groupthink Symptoms Applied to Events<br />Having a Highly Cohesive Group: The illusion of invulnerability creates excessive optimism and encourages extreme risk taking. <br />30<br />When engineers raised the possibility of catastrophic O-ring issues, a NASA manager nonchalantly pointed out that this risk was ‘‘true of every other flight we have had." <br />The O-ring seal is a critical failure point without backup. A NASA manager testified ‘‘we were counting on the backup O-ring to be the sealing O-ring under the worst case conditions.” <br />“Knowing what I know now about gas entering the shuttle’s wing, do I believe the mission I was on was any more risky than I thought it was when I took off? No.” Astronaut Mary Ellen Weber, following May 2000 mission. <br />
  31. 31. Groupthink Symptoms Applied to Events<br />Hear no evil. See no evil. Speak no evil. <br />31<br />There is a shared illusion of unanimity because silence means there is consent.<br />Pressuring People Towards Uniformity:<br />In the Columbia disaster, the same engineers that identified the problem did not speak-up and express their concerns for fear of being ridiculed and losing their jobs.<br />Pressure people who expresses counter-arguments. <br />Morton Thiokol’s Senior Vice President urged the Vice President of Engineering to ‘‘take off your engineering hat and put on your management hat." <br />Protect the group from adverse information and “troublesome” ideas. <br />Morton Thiokol’s expert on O-rings stated to the Rogers Commission that he ‘‘was not even asked to participate in giving input to the final decision.”<br />
  32. 32. 32<br />Preventing Groupthink<br />Assign each member the role of “critical evaluator” with permission – and encouragement – to freely air objections and doubts. <br />Managers shouldn’t express opinions when assigning tasks. <br />Set up several independent groups to work on the same problem. <br />All effective alternatives should be openly examined. <br />Members should discuss ideas with trusted people outside of the group. <br />Invite outside experts into meetings. Group members should be allowed to discuss with and question the outside experts. <br />At least one group member should be assigned the role of Devil's Advocate. This should be a different person for each meeting. <br />
  33. 33. 33<br />Summary<br />Mindset is to not rock the boat. Group members avoid promoting viewpoints outside the comfort zone of consensus thinking. <br />Ideas are not critically analyzed because members want to minimize conflict.<br />Individual doubts are set aside as few alternatives considered.<br />Minimal or no re-examination of alternatives that may have been initially discarded.<br />Expert opinions and “negative” information is rejected.<br />In the end, groups make hasty, irrational decisions.<br />
  34. 34. 34<br />References<br />Carveth, Rodney and Claire Ferraris. NASA and the Columbia Disaster: Decision-making by groupthink? 2003, Association for Business Communication Annual Convention.<br />Bond, Timothy; Robert Dimitroff; Lu Ann Schmidt. Organizational Behavior and Disaster: A Study of Conflict at NASA. June 2005. Project Management Journal. <br />Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB). <br />Bazerman, Max and Dolly Chugh. Decisions without blinders. Harvard Business Review. January 2006.<br />

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