Groupthink.docx - Groupthink: Group Dynamics and the...

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Groupthink: Group Dynamics and the Decision-Making Process Patricia F. Katopol Tamika, Jeff, Susan,and Rosa sat around the seminar table wondering what was going to happen next. Lisa, the directorof their small liberal arts college library had been talking about ‘change’ and ‘the future’ for the pasttwenty minutes. This was their first meeting of the new school year and Lisa was just full of plans shehad been working on over the summer. Lisa explained that after an article in the student newspaperabout the new learning commons at the nearby community college, students and faculty at theirschool started talking about changes they would like to see in their own library. Over the summer,some had even approached Lisa to see what changes could be implemented. Tamika sat back andclosed her eyes. This was all well and good, but she was headed toward retirement. She would letLisa and the group have their way without much comment. Let ‘em do what they wanted to do, evenif it was going to damage the library; she wasn’t going to have to live with it for very long. Jeffthought that spending money developing a learning commons might be the wrong path for theirsmall school, when the library had so many other needs. Besides, the library worked well for most ofthe students, didn’t it? And faculty – their biggest contact with library staff was to drop off theirrequest for reserved books for the term. Why should they change what was working well for them?Jeff looked over to see what Susan was doing. He shouldn’t have been surprised to see her writingdown everything Lisa said. This was Susan’s first job as a librarian; her dream was to become a librarydirector. She hung on Lisa’s every word, figuring that it might include information she could use onher way to the top. She knew she didn’t have enough experience to make an informed commentabout what Lisa was saying; she just assumed Lisa knew what she was talking about and continuedtaking notes. Rosa tried to keep a poker face. She was Lisa’s assistant director and had seen all of theprojects Lisa had worked on over the summer. She thought some of them might work out, butothers… well… But even though she saw problems, Rosa did not speak up. She liked her job. Sheactually liked Lisa. Jobs were hard enough to get and there was no guarantee that the next onewould be any better than this one. She may not completely agree with Lisa, but why pick anargument. Things might work out… V o l u m e 3 0 , n u m b e r 1 Page 2 Finally Lisa stopped talkingand looked around the table expectantly. The staff looked at each other. Now that they heard Lisa’sideas, they sounded good to them all. Granted, she hadn’t included any of the suggestions from thestudent council or the faculty, but after all, they were the librarians. What did students know? Forthat matter, what did faculty know about running an academic library? Yeah, Lisa’s plans seemed allright. There might be some holes here and there, and no one was sure where the money was going

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