Bridgewater as a company build a culture to avoid groupthink. Building this culture will entail practices that will allow for employees to share feedback openly without any fear. As companies battle challenges from the pandemic to having to traverse a future that is murky. Having in place unfiltered views on deck will help. As each company grapples with uncertainties and an economic climate that looks uncertain, having in place a culture that avoids group think is a plus. One observation I have made with tightly knit teams, is the false believe that they are better than other teams, coming to agreements and consensus quickly. As companies battle the impact of COVID on their businesses, key questions that have emerged is why individuals have not flagged out dissenting views towards strategy, risks and growth soon enough.

6 bridgewater How to avoid group think

Here are 6 practices in place at Bridgewater, that has helped them build a culture that is centred on giving open and fearless feedback.

Have in place in your management team a group of credible people, who can come together to diagnose a challenge. People that you have identified amongst every tier of your management teams. From the middle manages to your senior management team. Take a 3 prong approach towards getting the team to work. Diagnose the problem at hand, share your reasoning and explore al causes and probable solutions.
At Bridgewater, they encourage all views, however not all views are valued equally.
At Bridgewater, they have given a score to every executive and the score is tracked based on their work performance. Once again, they have taken a sporting approach towards creating a score matrix for different skill sets in each employee.
The performance score for each employee is aggregated against 77 different competencies, centred on values, skills and abilities. Higher level thinking skills, practical thinking, maintaining high standards, open mindedness and determination are measured and rated. In a dynamic performance centric environment where all views are collated, your rating gives a broader picture of your organizational reliability.
They have review cycles in place and employees rate each other on qualities such as integrity, courage, living in truth, taking the bulls by the horn, being willing to touch a raw nerve and holding people accountable are scored.
Between review cycles employees can give real time and open feedback to anyone in the company, and that includes to the CEO, himself.

Pretty daunting to say the least. More so for companies, when no one speaks or even murmurs an idea. Teams that are quick to reach consensus may not have considered alternative views with clarity. When culture is centred on fear, not rocking the boat, or blindly following policies, high chance many of the employees may have been rewarded for towing the line. COVID 19 ravage on the economy has shown how unprepared most organization have been. As leaders, when your peers and staff disagree with you, that’s a pat you can give yourself on your back. You have shown that you encourage dissenting views. To breakthrough into the realms of innovation and organizational performance, encourage fearless feedback. Here is a short clip, on what defines a “groupthink” and how it is detrimental to teams.

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About the Author: Ebnu Etheris Ma.IDT, B.Hrd

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Ebnu Etheris, holds a Masters degree in Instructional Design and was part of the pioneering team of executives who saw through the start up of Singapore’s first Budget Airline, Valuair. He was responsible for developing the airline’s Crisis planning systems and initiating blended learning in Flight operations. He works as a Partner with Teamworkbound.

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