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Why Groups Fail to Share Information Effectively

Hardly surprising: Why Groups Fail to Share Information Effectively: “When asked to make a group decision, instead of sharing vital information known only to themselves, people tend to repeat information that everyone already knows.”
Most spaces/venues of interaction fail to take advantage of the value of critique and debate. Since disagreement in generally not encouraged, we end up sharing information that we think will not cause conflict or upset others. It takes a degree of self-confidence (and a supportive environment) to ensure contrary voices are heard.
What controversial idea have you shared lately? And, how was it received? Pressure to normalize ideas (and people) is strong and pervasive in groups…


  1. Ken Allan wrote:

    Kia ora e George!

    I am forever attempting to share controversial ideas. I have earned a reputation for these attempts and they are rarely looked upon as useful. But my persistence has caused many to expect that I will make the attempts nevertheless.

    My tack now is to ask the rhetorical question rather than proffer the controversial statement. It’s more acceptable to do it that way, but it doesn’t make the controversy any more comfortable.

    I think you are right when you say, “disagreement in generally not encouraged”. But I often wonder what the real root of ‘disagreement’ is.

    Is it just that people have not thought sufficiently about the issue? Is it that people don’t want to put much thought into the issue? My hunch is that being winkled out of the comfort zone can be done in many different ways, the chief of which (these days) is being asked to think critically about controversial issues. People in general don’t want to chew the fat over possibilities when controversy is only skin deep.

    Often the controversy has a political aspect to it. In this way it is often defined before the issue is raised. But when it’s raised, I watch as people duck under the parapet.

    It makes for interesting studies in human behaviour.

    Catchya later

    Monday, August 17, 2009 at 4:08 am | Permalink
  2. Hi Ken – good approach – few people like to be directly challenged. But, when we are led into deeper thinking by provocative questions, we generally rise to the challenge…

    Monday, August 17, 2009 at 12:26 pm | Permalink
  3. Ken Allan wrote:

    Kia ora e George.

    I do believe that the success of rousing those who may ‘rise to the challenge’ lies very much with the environment that they are in. Over the years I’ve watched many fall by the wayside and labeled as being negative when indeed they were anything but negative. But a culture that shames and blames not only persecutes those who attempt this, it also stops anyone else considering an attempt. As you said, “(p)ressure to normalize ideas (and people) is strong and pervasive in groups . . . “. It can also be initiated in the group by external influences. Such a culture as I discuss here can be fostered by the ‘OK who’s next’ attitude by management or authorities. At which time the would-be-sharers simply duck for cover and say nothing.

    There now. How’s that for a shared controversial idea? :-)

    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 12:06 am | Permalink