|RE: improving group dynamics?||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: TR Ruddick (truddickearthlink.net)|
|Date: Wed, 26 Nov 2003 11:32:11 -0700 (MST)|
> > >That [groupthink] is a trap for > > > consensus-based groups is my own conclusion, ... > > Kay > > So what is the way out of that trap you think? > Elaine > > The first step is to be aware of and monitor for the signs. > > Further, the person who points groupthink out needs to be someone the group > trusts to lead it on process matters. Unfortunately, it is often the group > maverick who is most likely to notice it. If the maverick points it out, > s/he may just be punished for (again/as usual) breaking group solidarity. Kay's identified the main sticking point in most group development patterns. People who study group development note that groups generally go through four phases of development. How quickly they go through those phases (or, whether or not the group survives past a particular phase) depends on the way the group members can relate and adapt to one another. The phases involve: (1) initial formation [or re-formation if there's a sudden large turnover in membership]. At this stage a few members will serve as the strong leaders, and others will defer to their judgment. Decisions are made by those leaders with the passive consent of the others. This phase doesn't last long if new members are rapidly incorporated into the group's function. (2) greater participation and conflict. At this stage more people start to feel committed and involved; at the same time, the authority and direction of the "strong leaders" from stage one will be challenged by the interests of the newly-committed members. At this stage the group often experiences coalitions and factions, and decisions are made via political processes--influence-swapping, vote-counting, procedural tricks, etc. This stage doesn't last long if the original "strong leaders" are open-minded individuals who embrace broader participation. (3) conflict avoidance. At this stage the members try to avoid conflict at all costs. Here is where "groupthink" breaks out, and where the mavericks (we call 'em the "central negatives") are most vulnerable to ouster. Decisions at this stage as made by a process called "assumed consensus"--no one will dispute big decisions, but debates might go on for a long time over minuscule details (case in point: a communication scholar once reported observing a church council that took no time at all agreeing to spend $35K on a new van--but then argued for several hours over what restrictions should be placed on the types of music to be played on the radio or cassette). If your cohousing group constantly carps on people who "block consensus" then you're probably stuck in this phase. Groups don't last long in this stage if the membership tends to be open to rational criticism. (4) full function. At this stage, disagreements are seen as opportunities to refine ideas so that they accommodate everyone concerned. Strong leaders emerge for certain projects, but they're temporary and when the project is complete they become regular members again. In the best groups, the strong leaders are chosen on the basis of their expertise in the project. Decisions are made by true consensus. The group tends to keep working at this level until there's a great turnover in membership, at which time the phases start all over again. If people understand this pattern of group development and adopt the kinds of attitudes and behaviors that promote getting to full function, then you surmount those "traps" and several others that might litter your path. Of course, the devil is in the details--getting people to understand principles and to change to more flexible behaviors is tough, tough, tough. TR Ruddick Dayton Cohousing _______________________________________________ Cohousing-L mailing list Cohousing-L [at] cohousing.org Unsubscribe and other info: http://www.cohousing.org/cohousing-L
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