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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

Problems that Result from Informational Signals and Reputational Pressures in Groups

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


January 12, 2015

The authors of “Making Dumb Groups Smarter,” describe four patterns that tend to persist as a result of poor informational signaling and reputational pressures.

Groups amplify the errors of members in informational signals, rather than correct them. Consider the greater complexity of communication patterns in groups versus between individuals.

1. Groups experience “cascade effects” of errors and often act on and follow those who speak or ask first.

2.Groups can easily become polarized taking more extreme points of view than held before group deliberation.

3. Groups focus more on what most people already knew rather than valuing the critical information that only a few bring to the table.

How do these patterns manifest themselves in groups you work with? What are some specific examples you might consider this week? How have you contributed to these patterns? What behaviors might you exhibit from the Seven Norms of Collaboration that would begin to break these destructive patterns?


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

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