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Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey

Factors that Contribute to Poor Group Decision-Making

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


January 08, 2015

How can we become more conscious of what are some of the factors that contribute to counterproductive decision-making in groups? Fortunately there is a strong body of research to inform us and Cass Sunstein and Reid Hastie offer it in insightful article, “Making Dumb Groups Smarter,”. This month, we will offer some insights that may assist your group to increase their consciousness and craftsmanship.

The authors suggest two causes of decision-making errors. The first is informational signals. This means that members receive information from others incorrectly or misinterpret its meaning. In Cognitive CoachingSM we offer some understanding of this through the Filters of Perception.

The second cause is reputational pressures. This occurs when people go silent or change their opinions in order to maintain their status either formally with the group or by some perceived disapproval by the group. This might be a contributor to difficulties in PLCs where status or authority differences may exist.

As you return from winter break, consider a group where you have seen evidence of these factors occurring. As the month moves forward, we will explore these in more depth. Consider how differentiating dialogue and discussion and the Norms of Collaboration may address these causes of poor decision-making.


Sunstein, C. & Hastie, R. (2014). Making Dumb Groups Smarter. Harvard Business Review, p. 90-98.

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