The Works

The Works

Lunch and Learn with Artie Isaac: Abilene Paradox

Your team unanimously agrees to work on a project that is destined to fail. Not only that, but no one on the team actually thinks the project is a good idea. This is the Abilene Paradox.

Why It Happens: the psychological principals that lead to the Abilene Paradox

Action Anxiety – that voice that causes you to second guess taking action even if it would lead to a good outcome

Fear of Separation – deep down, humans want to belong, so if the rest of the group votes yes, you vote yes

Negative Fantasies – the worst-case scenarios that seem very real in our mind

Real Risk – knowing there is a real risk (knowing dissent could get you fired) in disagreeing

Blaming the Leader – not taking responsibility for your own part in the group's decision

Collusion – not working to save the team from failing

How to Stop It From Happening:
  • Assess real risks
  • Own up to your own beliefs
  • Confront the group
Phrases to Watch For:
  • I'm new here so I have not earned the right to disagree just yet
  • She is my boss so she knows better
  • If "Whatever" is the response in agreement to the group decision
  • Not my job to question if this is a good idea

A big thank you to Versa member Artie Isaac of Vistage Worldwide for speaking and Versa member Bill Ackman of TriNet for sponsoring a delicious lunch. This unique hour proved to be an incredibly open and inspiring discussion. To that end, thank you to our attendees for sharing your stories and asking honest questions. 

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Wednesday, 23 October 2019
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