Abilene Paradox

1644 words 7 pages
The Abilene Paradox occurs when members of an organization take an action contrary to what they really want to do and, as a result, defeat the very purposes they are trying to achieve

The lack of the ability to manage agreement is expressed by six specific sub symptoms: 1) Individuals agree as to the nature of the problem or situation. 2) There is individual agreement as to the steps that should be taken. 3) Organization members fail to communicate their desires and beliefs to one another. 4) Inaccurate and invalid information is then used to make decisions. 5) Everyone is angry, irritated, and frustrated with the organization. 6) The cycle repeats itself.

What’s Behind The Paradox?
It is the lack of logic that
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What psychological reasons are there for doing something that is bound to result in both individual discomfort and in a lack of full and valid information for the group and our organizations? It is believed, according to Harvey, that people behave in this manner because they are afraid of the unknown. His hypothesis, quite different from others, is that we know what we are afraid of and that it generally has to do with loneliness, being left out, separation, and alienation. To avoid these, we will actually act against our best interests, hoping to be "part" of something, members of the whole.

We also tend to believe that any decision or action is better than no action at all. The problem is that there is incomplete information in individual minds. The need to act together, to be seen as cohesive, overrides the need to be explicit about group assumptions, desires, opinions, and even facts.
Breaking the Cycle of Wrong Assumptions and Fear
Breaking the cycle that so often leads us to blaming each other for decisions and actions that we "knew" we did not agree with in the first place is critical to the health and effectiveness of an organization or work group. It can only be accomplished by building new communication habits and getting beyond our fears.

Collusion motivates us to accept decisions and actions with which we fundamentally disagree or question. We submit to becoming victims by our own


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