There are also more insidious disadvantages to teamwork, notes Professor Heidi K. Gardner in her April 2012 Harvard Business Review article, “Coming Through When It Matters Most.”
Under pressure, teams gravitate toward safe ground. While most start out highly engaged, inviting input from everyone, members become risk-averse as they push toward project completion. They maneuver toward consensus in a way that blocks paths to critical information.“Just when teams most need to draw on the full range of their members’ knowledge to produce the high-quality, uniquely suitable outcomes they started out to deliver, they instead begin to revert to the tried and true,” she writes.
This process occurs through subtle language cues that warn team members to avoid delays. Team leaders use their positional power to foster harmony and swift decision-making. Although discussions still appear to be open, in reality there’s an effort to move the project along by getting everyone to agree on the optimal course.
If this sounds like “groupthink,” it is. But it’s more nuanced and subtle—hence, more dangerous.