Both in a professional office environment as well as in my role as a conflict resolver, I have often observed the effect that those that 'dare to disagree' can have on a homogeneous group or team that has fallen into group think.
By coming at something from another angle they encourage the main group to more thoroughly reason their own view and also look for other alternatives to counter the 'outlier'. While they can be a challenge to engage with, they can bring value both to an organisation and to any attempt to resolve conflict.
Other ways to avoid group think include:
- Diversity - A group that is socially and professionally diverse is less likely to be dominated by a single point of view.
- Alternatives - Create a decision process that ensures that the group will consider a number of alternatives or play out alternative scenarios. Examples include devil’s advocate, postmortem, and outside experts, among others.
- Disagreement and debate - Create a culture where the members are expected to debate. Disagreement should be normalized.
- Reduce stress - For example, allow more time for decision making
"Most people are afraid and they don't speak up. Companies have that problem all the time. And the research really shows us that that even if it's wrong, the fact that the majority or the consensus is challenged actually stimulates thinking," she explains to Quartz. "We actually do others a favor because our dissent--provided it is authentic--stimulates them to think more broadly and deeply. Our groups make better decisions."