Day#214: The Abilene Paradox

Day#214: The Abilene Paradox

Hey there and thanks for stopping by! Today I want to discuss the Abilene Paradox, I am always fascinated by how we make decisions as people and how those decisions can often be more influenced by outside factors than we think. Of Course we all want to believe that we come to decisions from a logical perspective but as we are such social beings it should be no surprise that our decisions are very much influenced by the group dynamic. I have written about Group think before and you can find the post here

Briefly Group-think is the process whereby everyone in the group follows one idea. The reason people may follow the initial idea can be because the individual who stated or came up with the initial idea may be high up in the company and more senior to the rest of those in the group. The dynamic then becomes an agreeable meeting where everyone agrees with one person, worried about stating otherwise and not wanting to face any repercussions of stating something counter to the most senior person who came up with the idea. I have seen slightly contrary explanations indicating, how people actually make themselves believe the idea by the senior is a good idea over time, not necessarily contrary as such but more related to justifying the decision in ones own mind. In real life I have experienced this too on projects, where I come in and can see blatantly that an idea should not have been implemented however everyone on the team believes in it very strongly. This may not be the only reason for situations like this but it can certainly be one of them, check out the video below discussing Group think

Now onto the Abilene Paradox, this refers to how an idea can be carried out based on one person stating it and the rest believing that each other person in the group also likes the idea. Everyone then agrees to move forward with said idea thinking that the rest of the group of people like the idea, a common issue noticed in the Abilene Paradox is people not wanting to “Rock the boat”. In relation to UX this can happen very quickly in Ideation sessions, as the facilitator of ideation sessions Uxers need to be aware of these types of human social psychology practices and know how to avoid them in Ideation sessions as well as other scenarios where they may be prevalent. Check out the video below on The Abilene Paradox

To finish off understanding that these types of situations can arise will help you deal with them better and possibly prevent them from happening, there are many methods of preventing Group think, like allowing lower tier employees give feedback on ideas first, and having ideas be anonymous when you step into Ideation sessions. The Abilene Paradox is a more tricky affair and one that you will need to dive into deeper to ascertain if it is truly is the best decision for moving forward. Having Ideation sessions, possible solutions and then follow through sessions critiquing ideas and features can help to dissect and work on creating the best possible product. Happy researching until next time Uxers

Bye for now!

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