Re: improving group dynamics?
From: Kay Argyle (
Date: Tue, 25 Nov 2003 14:18:11 -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.

As the groupthink description said, one way to avoid it is to appoint a
devil's advocate.  This is a reason for the group to recognize and honor the
role its difficult members play, instead of trying to squelch or reform

Of course, being a chronic maverick, I have to admit to some bias.  I've
gotten into trouble for pointing out the disparity between the community's
received truth ("We have a beautiful community") and an outside fact ("We
got a letter from the city saying we will be fined if we don't clean up the
trash in the field").

Which leads us to another anti-groupthink role, the fact-checker.  * Did
that foreign minister really write a letter asking to buy yellow dirt? --
No, he left office ten years ago.  The letter's a forgery, and we'd better
find out who is trying to mislead us.  * Can we do this ourselves? What was
the experience of cohousing groups who hired a developer, or project
manager, or realtor, vs. those who didn't?  * Are members really going to
walk to the store instead of drive? How far do members currently walk where
they live now, and is this site at least that close to a store?

> I note that "groupthink" can happen just as much with putting task ahead
> relationship as relationship ahead of task.  > ... i've
> observed people trying to rush through a decision without really
> understanding each other ....
> Both traps are out there, so in my work i am always
> aiming to find a balance between task and relationship.  > --Tree

Where I get impatient is when people act like socializing is synonymous with
relationship-building. You can socialize with no understanding at all -- too
many people wear happy public faces.  (For all of which, I see the value of
socializing -- it is (for most people) motivation and reward for sticking
out the other stuff.)

Personal revelation that is centered around the task is a different matter.
What baggage are people bringing to the issue?  What does it mean to them?
And will elucidating these factors help resolve the issue, or are they
diversions, to avoid having to do anything or make a decision?  (Sometimes
you just have to say, Look, whatever your personal views about cars,
*whether* we have parking is not the issue.  We're required to have parking.
Right now, the issue is where to put it.)

Cohousing has a circle, or a mutual dependency, where the community exists
to create relationships, and the relationships exist to create the
community.  There are lots of ways to have relationships, and lots of
places to live, most of which don't include agreeing on laminate colors,
cleaning a common house toilet, or deciding if it's okay to put up political
signs in the community driveway.  Cohousing is a package deal.  Cohousers
shouldn't lose sight of that.


Cohousing-L mailing list
Cohousing-L [at]  Unsubscribe  and other info:

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.