When it is safe to dissent, people can say what they think instead of saying what they think the leader wants to hear.

Today we’re going to talk about avoiding groupthink with this one simple tool, these Probability Cards. The key is to ask people what they think first, before you have a conversation, before you contaminate them with what you think, or what the group thinks. We use 1, 5, 20, 50, 80, 95, and 99.  

We can ask a question like, “How strongly do you feel that we should include this feature in the software?” Or, “How strongly do you feel that we should delay the release?” Or, “What’s the probability that this assumption will come true?” Then people slide out a card.  You flip over all the cards and then the key at this point is focused on the outlier. 

Let’s say you got a bunch of 95s, some 99s, a couple 80s. And the group seems, you know, heavily weighed in one direction.  Then you got a 5 and you say, “Well, why might someone put out a five?” You don’t necessarily need to call out the person who put out the 5. Just say, “Hey, let’s talk about it. Why might someone put out a five?” 

My nudge to you this week is ask the group first what they think, then have the conversation. Let me know how it goes.

Sandy Wilmer

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