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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Will You Please Object?

Peter Lewis reviews Amazon's new Unbox in Fortune. You can pretty much tell his feelings about it, by looking at the headline: Two thumbs down for Unbox: Amazon's new movie service is a horror show, says Fortune's Peter Lewis.

The idea of trying to download a movie when Netflix will send me anything I want is just foreign to me, so I don't particularly care about the service. (Although I do love Amazon for everything else. My family should take note, if I can't order it from Amazon, you are probably not getting it for Christmas.) But, what I do wonder is why a wonderful company can make such a bad product.

Peter Lewis wonders the same thing. He writes:
Of all the smart and talented people at Amazon, did no one dare say, "Wait, our new service bites! It's slower than a trip to Blockbuster, more expensive than a DVD, absurdly restrictive on how the consumer uses the movie, delivers lower resolution than a DVD, and requires running a cable from the PC to the TV if you want to watch the movie on something larger than a PC monitor"?

This is what Evil HR Lady wants to comment on. I believe what we have here is a bad case of Groupthink going on here. At the moment, Wikipedia defines Groupthink as:
[A] mode of thought whereby individuals intentionally conform to what they perceive to be the consensus of the group. Groupthink may cause the group (typically a committee or large organization) to make bad or irrational decisions which each member might individually consider to be unwise.

Businesses have a real problem with this. Or, at least every company I've ever worked for has a huge problem with this. And I know I'm guilty of giving into the Groupthink mentality. More than once I've remained silent when I thought something was a really bad idea. Why? Because I thought I would be shot down and end up ticking off a superior, so why take the risk?

Of course, there was one time I defied the rules of Groupthink and loudly objected to a proposed project. The company that we were hiring to do the project had demonstrated nothing but sheer incompetence and I said as much. The result? I got pulled into my boss's office and was given a lecture on propriety. Way to encourage further Groupthink!

However (and I'm not taking credit for this whole thing, there were other objectors as well), finally the powers that be came to their senses and canceled the project. It, undoubtedly, saved the company millions of dollars.

When that nagging little voice is telling you, "This is a really bad idea," you should probably speak up. If you feel too much pressure to remain silent in the meeting, feel out a co-worker one-on-one and see if they share similar thoughts. Then figure out how to articulate why it is a bad idea and present it to the project leader.

Keep in mind that there may be facts and figures you haven't seen yet. But, a competent project leader will be happy to discuss them with you. An incompetent leader--well, so sorry you have those in your midst.

You may just save your company from making a colossal mistake. Of course, you may get pulled into your boss's office and lectured as well. (Sorry, Evil HR Lady makes no guarantees!) But, at least you will have opened the discussion. Ask yourself, do you want Fortune reviewing your project in the same light?

1 comment:

Mean Aunt said...

I agree---no wait, I object!

Groupthink must have been at work that day my sister and I decided to clean out all our closets and count our game pieces.