The Asch Experiment

A lesson in conformity.

If you don’t believe your company engages in “Groupthink,” watch this:

This is important because it reveals an inherent human tendency towards conformity.

And while the Asch Conformity Experiments showed how easily we slip into conformity, even in absurd situations, like that above, they also showed how easily we can slip out of it.

All it took was one person.

One person willing to defy the crowd, refusing to participate in the absurd behavior, immediately changed the group dynamic.

One peer willing to think differently from the group made all others in the group more apt to express their real thoughts.

Ultimately, diversity contributes not just by adding different perspectives to the group but also by making it easier for individuals to say what they really think. Independence of opinion is both a crucial ingredient in collectively wise decisions and one of the hardest things to keep intact. Because diversity helps preserve that independence, it’s hard to have a collectively wise group without it.”

That’s a quote from James Surowiecki’s book, The Wisdom of Crowds, which is definitely worth your time.

If you’re open to the possibility that conformity is limiting the information you need to make the best decisions, about your formats, your people, your path to the future, and want to delve a bit deeper into the subject (and have 10 minutes) — watch this:

Look, I have a vested interest in the point I’m making, to the extent that I may benefit if you see me as the one “outsider” willing to defy the groupthink in your building, but that doesn’t diminish the truth of this scientific research.

You need someone to play this part, whether it’s me or not.

One person, independent enough, confident enough, separate enough from your group to tell you that you’re facing the back of the elevator and you no longer even know it…