The problem of the Abilene paradox is, unfortunately enough, quite common for most organizations, despite the environment of open-mindedness and acceptance of any ideas voiced by its members within a specific company.
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Traditionally defined as the tendency for the company members to understate the significance of their opinion and the following decision-making process resulting in choosing the option that none of the members would have voted for individually (Business analysts and the Abilene paradox, 2015), the problem defined as the Abilene paradox affects organizations significantly. By dismissing their viewpoints as deliberately false, the company members may affect the organization at its very core by disrupting its very system.
Working for an organization that deals with creating sites and developing applications, I have noticed that the Abilene paradox occurs upsettingly often in the setting of any organization.
Particularly, in the process of brainstorming (Savage, 2013), when out team had to come up with the ideas concerning the means of attracting target customers, most people suggested the idea of developing two types of web content for the official site of the organization, i.e., the one that can be viewed with the help of an iPhone or the related devoice, and the one that will be displayed on the computer screen.
However, when it came to the group voicing its decision, most of the team members were clearly afraid of seeming old-fashioned and unacceptable of new ideas. As a result, the company’s website was designed in the manner that allowed for viewing it from both a PC and a mobile device.
This affected the information distribution and location on the PC version, making it less readable, yet none of the team members mentioned the specified issue, thus, confirming the key premises of the theory of the Abilene paradox (Savage, 2013). The leader could have made it clear that any ideas were welcome during the meeting, therefore, opening an opportunity for numerous suggestions and a more efficient brainstorming process.
A similar situation occurred in the course of choosing the strategy for the financial management of a project that our team was working on. Choosing a more expensive approach seemed reasonable, as the branding of the new product and its further promotion were going to increase the company’s revenues several times, and every single member realized it. Nevertheless, most people voted for an alternative, since, as they confessed later, they were certain that no one would support them.
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The above-mentioned experience can be explained from the perspective of the Abilene Paradox quite clearly (Rubin & Dierdorff, 2011), as cost efficacy was deployed as the strategic tool in the company at the time. Less rigid principles for financing the organization’s projects would have served as a block to the Abilene paradox in the aforementioned situation.
When it comes to defining the significance of the Abilene paradox, one must admit that its effects on the company’s performance may be quite drastic.
Though some of the company members may have a vague idea of how specific company elements work, they still have an intrinsic understanding of the company’s key operations, as they have had an extensive experience in the specified domain and, therefore, are most likely to make the intuitive decisions based on their ability no notice minor characteristics of the company unconsciously (Desii, 1999).
As the examples displayed above show, it is imperative that the company members should not neglect their intuitive understanding of how the company’s processes work. The specified step encourages the staff and company members to share their ideas concerning a specific issue without fearing of being ridiculed for raising a silly supposition.
Business analysts and the Abilene paradox. (2007). Web.
Desii, K. J. (1999). Revisiting the Abilene paradox: Is management of agreement still an issue? Issues and Trends in Diversity, Leadership and Career Development, 8(2), 1–3.
Rubin, R. S. & Dierdorff, E. C. (2011). On the road to Abilene: Time to manage agreement about MBA curricular relevance. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 10(1), 148–161.
Savage, C. M. (2013). Dark matters: On-line education and organizational dynamics. Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice, 13(2), 76–83.