How teams still get trapped into pretending they agree when they don’t


The classic case study, the “Abilene Paradox” describes the circumstances which lead up to four, otherwise sane, rational people, voluntarily setting out on a 106 mile round trip across a desert in furnace-like temperatures during a dust-storm to eat unpalatable food in a hole-in-the-wall cafeteria in Abilene, Texas (Dyer, 1987). None of them wanted to undertake the trip, but they thought that the others did. And, not wishing to upset the others, none of them voiced their real feelings.

Many organisational teams repeatedly take such trips, and sometimes at great human and organisational cost. People in organisations are frequently observed taking actions in contradiction of what their organisations are trying to do, and as a consequence defeat the very purposes they are trying to achieve. Every team member needs to develop sufficient confidence in their processes and in their colleagues such that team decisions are only made when all of the information relevant to the matter at hand is put on the table.


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Daily Management Nugget

Research and facts which all managers should know

Today’s Nugget:

How teams still get trapped into pretending they agree when they don’t (click above)

Tomorrow’s Nugget:

How breeding lions helps in the management of people