Do you dare to voice your choice? The Abilene Paradox

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Dearest Darling Friends,

On my birthday a couple of years back, I wanted to take my family out for dinner. I asked my wife where we can go. Knowing that I like Indian food, she immediately said: “Let’s go to Rajdhani – The Thali Restaurant.”

My son and daughter both nodded in agreement. On return, my son said: “I wish Papa had taken us to Mainland China”. Our son Neeraj loves Chinese food. “Or at least to Copper Chimney for the wonderful Punjabi food” added my daughter. “Yes, I too would have loved to go Mainland China”, I said.

My wife looked surprised: “But, didn’t we all unanimously agree to go to Rajdhani” she asked.

I said sheepishly “I didn’t want you to feel bad.” And both my children nodded in agreement. Here were four people who by themselves, wouldn’t have chosen to go to ‘Rajdhani’, but collectively agreed to go there. They did not want the proposer of the idea to be ‘upset’ or be ‘offended’.

This is the Abilene Paradox. Prof. Jerry Harvey calls it “The Inability to Manage Agreement”.

Abilene Paradox occurs when a group of people collectively decide on a course of action that is contrary to the preferences of many of the individuals in the group.

In the corporate world, when the boss throws an idea, some in the group show a hurry to agree. This is because everyone in the group thinks he would look stupid if he disagrees.  They also believe they will look smart if they agree. Standing out as a lone voice is very embarrassing. Abilene Paradox again!

I love this from Ayn Rand: “If we have an endless number of individual minds who are weak, meek, submissive and impotent – who renounce their creative supremacy for the sake of the “whole” and accept humbly the ‘whole’s verdict’ – we don’t get a collective super-brain. We get only the weak, meek, submissive and impotent collective mind.”

Let me conquer the Abilene Paradox and ask you a few questions.

Do you dare to voice your choice? Would you take a chance and care to express a contradictory opinion that might spoil the mood of the majority? Would you have the courage to be right at the cost of being alone?

If your answer to any of the above three questions is a YES, you are a REMARKABLE person. Hats off to you! Every family, every group of friends, every social movement, every business organization, needs people like you.

The World Wars could have been avoided had these people been present.
The Jallianwala Bagh massacre would have been avoided had these people been present.
The Satyam Computers and The Enron and The Sharada scams would have never happened had these people been present.

Our world needs you. May there be many more people like you. May there always be POWER in your soul.

With love, prayers and exceptional wishes,

naren

Imagine, when we wake up, we are given only what we had thanked for.

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