Abilene Paradox Meaning | What is Abilene Paradox? | UBS
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Abilene Paradox

What is Abilene Paradox?

The Abilene Paradox is the situation where a group collectively takes a decision even if it does not match the thoughts and perspectives of an individual member in the group. It happens because of people who don’t want to “rock the boat,” even when their beliefs of what the other group members are thinking aren’t always accurate. Therefore, even if an individual privately disagrees with a decision, they agree to it in the group.

Despite the fact that one of the team members does not think the proposal fits, he does not disclose his true thoughts; due to a desire to maintain the cohesion of the group or fear of potential bad effects. As a result, the group starts acting on conflicts or erroneous information. The colleague who suggested the action might be hesitant to take it. Poor decision-making occurs when no other colleague voices a difference of opinion.

For example, a web development team had its daily meeting. The HOD and the other team members decided to work for one hour extra each week to meet the deadlines. Opinions from the team members were taken, and one of the team members was not willing to work an extra hour. However, he went with the flow rather than expressing his personal thoughts. Due to this, he was caught in the Abilene Paradox. 

How to Prevent Abilene Paradox in Organization?

The Abilene Paradox phenomenon results in unsatisfactory results and decisions, and the company may face the consequences.

  • The major factor giving rise to such a situation is the leader being adamant and announcing his decision early without giving team members the chance to express their opinions. Instead, the leaders should keep their ideas to the end and listen to the viewpoint of every team member. 
  • Every team member must be allowed to suggest, express, and work on their ideas. It will create a positive work culture where the employees will feel free to fearlessly represent themselves. 
  • Additionally, it is not good to put the pressure of team action and responsibility on a single person, rather everybody in the team should participate in problem-solving. Letting them confront and express their ideas will prevent antisocial behavior and injustice. 

Also, See: Apprenticeship

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