February 15, 2010
One of the downfalls I see in boardrooms is what Daniel Goldman writes about called 'unanimous illusion.' Goldman defines this as a behavior that once a group adopts a belief, individual members are likely to believe it is true. All the more reason for directors to ask questions during board meetings on a broad range of topics of critical importance to their oversight role. This can drive explicit conversations. It takes courage to unveil painful truths. The board that balances a sense of unity with an openness to all relevant information can help to avoid group think. Remember - the collective mind is as vulnerable to self-deceit as the individual mind. Questions directors might ask when reviewing their decision making process:
1. Do we have an individual assigned to play the Devil's Advocate.
2. To what degree do we ask probing questions from a place if insight.
3. Are we following a leader on the board with a very impressive background AND whose experience matches the decision at hand.