Career advice: Don’t get sucked into groupthink decision-making

Warning: The following article contains academic-level content with hardly any nude pictures. Proceed at your own risk …

June. The final frontier of the profitable Q2. These are voyages of the online gambling CRM managers fighting to stay awake during their Q3 mission – to explore strange new ways of irritating their customers in the summer, to seek out churned accounts and hopelessly pray for their reactivation, to boldly go where no Retention Expert has gone before (on a date with a real girl?).

If you are not a sports betting exec, the combination of Summer, Euro 2012 and the forthcoming Olympic Games means that you are heading a very rocky period in terms of earnings.

In such crucial times, I thought you educated folks would enjoy going back to a topic you learned during your Organizational Behavior days at that expensive university your parents spent their life savings onto fund your way into those school drinking parties.

It’s called Groupthink, described as a psychological phenomenon that occurs when the desire for harmony in a decision-making group overrides a realistic appraisal of alternatives. Sound like what goes on in your board room? Keep reading: “Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints … The primary socially negative cost of groupthink is the loss of individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking.”

Among the notable catastrophes resulting from groupthink were the American government’s decisions to ignore warnings of an imminent attack by Japanese military forces at Pearl Harbor in 1941 and to avoid serious questioning of the ill-fated plan to invade Cuba via the Bay of Pigs in 1961.

Apart from painfully reminding you of the mental acuity of some of your line managers, what does this have to do with us CRMers? It’s this: We’re susceptible to groupthink ourselves as part of our own organizations’ elite group of “Decision Makers” or “Management.” Thomas is, of course, part of the “Let’s have few drinks on the company’s expense and tomorrow morning – or as soon as we’re able to sit without this agonizing pain – we’ll scribble down a few words and call it strategy” group. Told you this educational article is Ivy League class :)

As part of a decision-making group, it’s sometime difficult to detect your own vulnerability to groupthink. By being alert to groupthink’s symptoms, as described below, you could actually save your company a lot of resources otherwise spent on useless plans:

Symptom I: Overestimations of the group’s power and morality

  • Illusions of invulnerability, creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking.
  • Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions.

iGamingCRM translation: When you feel everything is just right and that the marketing plan your team is about to execute can’t possibly fail, hold another meeting in which you assume everything went rotten. As rotten as the smell in the IT room during casual “flip-flops allowed” Fridays. If you can imagine what might cause you to have a REAL meeting like this after the plan is executed, you can force yourself to identify potential problems before they occur.

Symptom II: Closed-mindedness

  • Rationalizing warnings that might challenge the group’s assumptions.
  • Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, biased, spiteful, impotent, or stupid.

iGamingCRM translation: You know that guy who keeps telling you that what the company is doing is wrong? If you disregard him, you’ll just give him a chance to prove that he was right. Especially if everybody else in the room is certain you should better sign this off quickly (“The girls from the affiliates are heading down for lunch and we better hurry up.”). Worst case scenario? You will have another back up plan for a doomsday mishap that never happens. Remember Murphy’s Law:  “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong!“.

Symptom III: Pressures toward uniformity

  • Self-censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus.
  • Illusions of unanimity among group members in which silence is viewed as agreement.
  • Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of “disloyalty.”
  • Mind guards— self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting information.

iGamingCRM translation: As the one sensible exec who can actually work his/her way through BI and DB, you should be able to view the data as it is. If you get the executive summary/bottom line, ask for the rest of the information. If nobody says anything, check to see if this is due to a preliminary discussion. (Come on – marketing people keeping their mouth shut for no apparent reason? It’s not a Circus Freak Show!). Simply hunt for the facts and make up your mind based on them and only them. Even it means a whole new promotional calendar needs to be planned. Otherwise, it’s more of the same (FYI: that’s wrong).

Summary: To capture this entire thing in one sentence:  Never lose your creative thinking. As long as you can think outside of the box and view things not as other wish you to see them, but as you interpret them without any biased filters, you are good to go. As CRM people, if you lose your creativity, Ya brain dead, Ya gotta fuckin’ bullet in your head.

About iGamingCRM Blog

Shahar Attias, CEO "Care to Make it Interesting?"
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1 Response to Career advice: Don’t get sucked into groupthink decision-making

  1. Eran says:

    And you did it again, taking things from totally different angel.

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