Some Thoughts on Groupthink and the Silent Majority

• Written by Richard D. Bartlett

How does loomio help individuals with unorthodox/innovative ideas bring those forward if every motion has to be approved by a group? How does loomio help leveraging the power and genius of a silent majority that's always likely to delegate their vote or abstain? (We posted a NYT article on this subject a while back as well).

Some thoughts on an interesting question posed to the team.


Delegating or abstaining is hugely preferable to not engaging at all. Sometimes it can be a sign of problems (e.g. education is lacking), but in a healthy group those actions are a signal of trust between the group members.


Most decisions probably don't require in-depth involvement from most group members, and leaving it up to the few people who care most to debate the issue is fine. But if you make minimal engagement easy, your chances of having someone notice a really bad idea and speak up – even if they only speak up 1 out of 100 times and abstain the other times – goes way up, and this can save the group from making a big mistake…So sharing the responsibility helps increase the group's collective intelligence.


One thing that contributes to groupthink is proximity. As in, I hear what the people next to me say and as a result I might think similar things. So if there's a person in the group with a radically different/good idea, most people probably won't be close enough to that person to hear them. One of the goals of Loomio (in my opinion) is to bring all of us closer together. Make it easier for us to listen to each other and collect all of the different ideas of the group into a single place.


Having the ability to engage, even though I may choose not to, is subtle but important. Lets me know on a daily basis of the issues, and my empowerment within the organisation.

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