The group stops the car and sits back, puzzled why they all decided to take a trip when they would all have been happier sitting on the porch enjoying themselves at home. The inference we can draw here is to avoid falling prey to this paradoxical situation and making a trip to Abilene. Invite group outsiders in and ask them to tell you what they think. While the blame-game started, we were dismayed for not opposing this decision, even when we had valid reasons for doing so. It is a hot sunny afternoon in Coleman, Texas. The person who had suggested the idea father-in-law also states that he simply suggested it because he thought the others might be bored. Motivate 'critical reasoning', and avoid letting them succumb to a hasty decision.
Some discounts may vary, depending on the video program. In this age of corporate scandals and lack of accountability, or for even the best of organizations, this parable by Dr. It involves a common breakdown of in which each member mistakenly believes that their own preferences are counter to the group's and, therefore, does not raise objections. This is an easy trap to fall prey to, and we lose our ability to critically evaluate any situation through our own perspective. The Agile Business Consortium does not accept any legal responsibility for any content or opinion published in the Blog area of this website.
Government contractors do not qualify for government discounts. Eventually, the assignment got delayed, and we had to rope in more employees to complete the assignment. For every instance in which members of an organization sigh in relief that someone has finally voiced their secret reservations, there may be many more in which additional attention to conflict is not welcome. Please call us to receive any of these discounts: 800-421-0833. It's a bumpy ride culminating in meaningless outcomes and blame, but you can skip the trip if you know how to read the road signs. Non-Profit Discount: Occasionally we can offer discounts to 501 c 3 non-profit organizations.
On the other hand, every member is incentivized to agree as soon as possible, or risk being stuck in committee session longer than they want, as well as risk the image of dissenter. They each would have preferred to sit comfortably, but did not admit to it when they still had time to enjoy the afternoon. Do you suspect that co-workers share your opinion? Jerry Harvey, master storyteller, shows how we often get to some place, when nobody wanted to go there in the first place. The parable goes like this: Scene: Husband, wife, and her parents are sitting cozily in the porch of their house in Coleman, Texas. Thus, this paradox explains that 'silence is golden', but not always! The E-mail message field is required. False agreements made in organisations every day may have widespread and long-lasting impacts.
The mother agrees that it sounds like a good idea, and one by one, the father and mother-in-law agree despite personal reservations. The latter suppresses individual opinions and creativity, and the members of the group tend to think as a 'whole', instead of offering space to individually critically evaluate the situation. Elements of the Paradox According to Harvey, the issue that leads to the Abilene Paradox is an inability to manage agreement, not conflict. Harvey described the paradox in terms of a family relaxing on a hot afternoon in Texas. To avoid this happening, you may need to take some of the following steps when working in groups on critical issues: 1. After initial enthusiasm wears off, they are much more likely to spot problems and weaknesses.
If someone appears as an outsider, the ability to empathise and try and understand that person drops. And why not, we all have been in such a situation, only to later, fume and fret for not speaking up. The Abilene Paradox, after all, occurs only when group members privately agree on an alternative. Man is a social animal, and he thrives on social acceptability to survive in this world. There is also a documentary film based on this parable, which describes this story, and is a part of the human resource management training programs.
Leaders need to become more aware of the power of group dynamics and the effects that it has on the individuals in an organisation. Not sure where your team is heading? This might prove beneficial for those who are apprehensive of speaking up in public,. The Takeaway So seek diversity on your team; encourage discussion and debate during the planning stage, and thank those who are willing to speak up. In the end they all paid for it with a long dusty, meaningless trip in the hot Texas sun. This does not affect the price you pay. I only offered to go for you. Ethics and Organizational Decision Making: A Call for Renewal.
It goes like this: One hot summer afternoon in Coleman, Texas, a family is playing dominoes on the porch, when the father-in-law proposes that they all take a trip to Abilene for dinner, 53 miles away. Thus, we all ended up taking a road trip to Abilene. This second edition is completely refreshed with a faster pace and more engaging viewing experience. I still feel lousy about the whole thing, though. Harvey says that because his family became conscious of the paradox, they avoided the division into warring groups it sometimes causes. Government Discount: Your organization must be a city, county, state, or federal government agency.
Ronald Sims writes that the Abilene paradox is similar to groupthink, but differs in significant ways, including that in groupthink individuals are not acting contrary to their conscious wishes and generally feel good about the decisions the group has reached. Once the decision is made, then it is time for everyone to pull together with all they have, but until then, there is strength in dis-unity. The trip turns out to be unpleasant, as they have to drive on a hot and dusty road and end up with bad food. How often to you, or other colleagues waste valuable time and effort on projects that everyone knew was doomed from the start? The story above is an example of the , defined as a circumstance when a group ends up choosing an option that no one individually prefers. Beware of false consensus, the heart of the Abilene Paradox The answer, Harvey says in his 1988 book, The Abilene Paradox and Other Meditations on Management , is that organizations, and the people who work in them, make false assumptions about consensus. If everyone is thinking the same way, you will miss hidden opportunities and creative solutions. Video Synopsis: A group of adults is off to dinner in Abilene, Texas after an idea to do so was floated during a game of dominos.