The New Groupthink:
The Problem with Teams

Teamwork demands shared responsibility, but it also demands individual contributions. It fails if team members shelter behind the consensus. ~ Robert Heller, Founding Editor, Management Today

A recent survey found that 91 percent of high-level managers believe teams are the key to success. But the evidence doesn’t always support this assertion. Many teamwork-related problems remain hidden from view.

Every team thinks it does its best work when the stakes are highest. On the contrary, pressures to perform drive people toward safe solutions that are justifiable, rather than innovative.

Corporations increasingly organize workforces into teams, a practice that gained popularity in the ’90s. By 2000, roughly half of all U.S. organizations used teams; today, virtually all do.

Some teams work together from remote locations, relying on technical communication aids, such as web conferencing and email. Others demand a tremendous amount of face-to-face interaction, including team-building retreats, shared online calendars, meetings and physical workspaces that afford little privacy.

“Innovation—the heart of the knowledge economy—is fundamentally social,” writes prominent journalist Malcolm Gladwell.

Management expert Peter Drucker, who coined the term “knowledge worker,” points out that while people have always worked in tandem, “teams become the work unit rather than the individual himself” in knowledge work.

Working in teams has definite advantages:

There are, however, several barriers to achieving great work from teams…

This article summarizes the more insidious problems with teamwork including groupthink, brainstorming traps, workspace deficiencies and creativity blocks.


This is a brief synopsis of an 1500 & 900-word article and Article Nuggets*, suitable for consultants’ newsletters for executives and leaders in organizations. It is available for purchase with full reprint rights, which means you may put your name on it and use it in your newsletters, blogs or other marketing materials. You may also modify it and add your personal experiences and perspectives.

 The complete 1500-word article includes these important concepts:

  • The Hidden Problem
  • Groupthink
  • The New Groupthink
  • The False Benefits of Brainstorming
  • Introverts vs. Extroverts
  • Evaluate Your Workspaces
  • Better Ways to Work in Teams


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