Need help with my writing homework on Wiser. Write a 250 word paper answering; The Review of the Introduction to the Book “Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter” by Cass R. Sunstein and Reid Hastie In the introduction to the book “Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter” by Cass R. Sunstein and Reid Hastie there are several important points made about the group work. First of all, even though the idea about two heads being better than one and three heads being even better is not new and definitely contains wisdom, we should be careful with it. The reason for that is the fact that groups do not usually correct individual mistakes but can make them even worse. As Sunstein and Hastie put it (15), “groups do not merely fail to correct the errors of their members: they can amplify these errors”.
This idea somehow challenges my idea about groupthink as I personally was always convinced that the more people participate in the discussion – the better it is for the final decision and I didn’t think about the possible pitfalls of this approach. However, it is also worth mentioning that Sustain and Hastie are still optimistic about the groupthink: even though they admit that usually groupthink does not correct individual mistakes, it still can do it.
I can recall the situation from my personal experience when the short-tempered person who was speaking the first emphasized his wrong idea so quickly and emotionally, that others felt somehow obliged to maintain the dynamics of the discussion and started to develop this idea quickly and emotionally and no one took time to correct the fallacy of initial statement. Now, after reading this book and applying the wisdom provided in it to my life, I would put an effort into slowing down the discussion and finding time to correct the initial statement. In this way our group thinking would correct the individual mistake of that person instead of further contributing to it.
The introduction to the book “Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter” presents the idea of avoiding “happy talk” which “occurs when group members say that all is going well and likely to go even better.” (Sunstein and Hastie, 10) The authors of the book name the role assignment as a tool which can reduce the “happy talk”. This is again a very interesting and quite surprising idea for me as I always thought that maintaining optimistic mood in the group is crucial for any productive discussion and, moreover, saying that everything goes well is an utilization of positive affirmation as an important tool which helps to achieve success. However, after having read this book, I understand that being anxious about every idea and questioning what others say especially when your expertise according to role assignment lets you to do that, is a very powerful tool and it contributes to the improvement of the final result. Now I agree that the anxious leader is more effective leader than the complacent one as providing constructive critiques, challenging ideas and always worrying about potential risks is crucial in the successful accomplishment of any project.
The idea of suggesting leaders to “shut up and listen” is another very interesting idea in the introduction to the book “Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter”. As mentioned above, I generally think that the more people participate in the discussion – the better as the problem can be solved in the best possible way only when multidimensional perspective and plurality of views are involved. I agree with the idea of importance for the leader to “shut down and listen” to the other to the voices of other group members as this is crucial in order to avoid failure in obtaining important information. Such important information can be missed when someone of group members is told to shut up and therefore the role of group leader is not to talk himself but to let every voice (especially those ones which bring new information to the discussion) to be heard.