How To Avoid “Group Think”!

You need to diversify your VA team’s membership to energize your team.

When selecting or replacing your value analysis team membership, you need to consider the diversity of your team’s members. Do they look alike, dress alike, and think alike (i.e., homogeneous) or are they edgy, rebels, and free thinkers (i.e., heterogeneous)? The reason I ask this question is because there have been numerous studies conducted which show that if you have a homogenous group, you are in danger of “group think” or the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity, individual responsibility, and territoriality.

I know you have seen this “group think” behavior with your own value analysis teams, over and over again. Team members don’t want to hurt someone's feelings, step on their toes, or seem to be unreasonable, so you “go along to get along.” Not a good business practice, if you want to make the best decisions possible at your value analysis team meetings.

Another big turnoff is a team member who is obviously protecting their turf when a decision is put on the floor for discussion. They will find every reason possible (logical or illogical) to keep their products or services from being changed. Yet, no team member will challenge their positions, opinions or intransience.

The danger of “group think” is when the desire for harmony and conformity trumps good management practices. To avoid this counterproductive, dysfunctional, and limiting group dynamic, we recommend the following four new rules:

1. To ensure the unbiased nature of your value analysis team’s composition, up to 50% of your membership should be non-clinical. For instance, if you have ten members on your value analysis team, five would be clinical and five would be non-clinical. The non-clinical members could be recruited from finance, maintenance, food service, public relations, telecommunications, etc. 

2. All value analysis members should be selected for their core competencies, instead of by their title. We call this recruiting the usual suspects (OR and ER director, infection control manager, clinic manager, etc.) to be members of your value analysis team, instead of selecting them for their unique attitudes, talents, and traits that complement your value analysis process.

3. To avoid “group think”, territorial constrains, and to lower resistance to change, value analysis project managers should have no ownership over the products, services or technologies they are investigating. Meaning, if they specify, use or have budget control over any commodity group they would be disqualified as a project manager on a project in their spear of influence.

4. Rule #3 goes for team leaders, too; they shouldn’t be permitted to lead a value analysis team that is organized by product line if they have ownership over the product line they are evaluating or investigating. For example, a director of nursing shouldn’t be a team leader for a clinical VA team.

The purpose for these new rules is to structure and encourage your value analysis team members to be cooperative, have an open mind, and to look at the big picture, rather than just their department, division or subsidiary's particular self-interest. This goal can only be achieved if there is diversity in your value analysis team membership that leads to creativity, individual responsibility, and respect.