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Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter
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Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  290 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Why are group decisions so hard?

Since the beginning of human history, people have made decisions in groups—first in families and villages, and now as part of companies, governments, school boards, religious organizations, or any one of countless other groups. And having more than one person to help decide is good because the group benefits from the collective knowledge of
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published December 23rd 2014 by Harvard Business Review Press (first published December 2nd 2014)
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Oct 21, 2018 added it
Shelves: read-for-school
I read like 80% of this and skimmed the other 20% so I'm marking it as "read" ahaha.

It was pretty enjoyable for school reading! I especially liked the part about organizations' over-reliance on the Myers-Briggs test... Also how groups whose members all think similarly, fall into relative consensus, and see another group as opposing them, have a high tendency towards increased polarization... This felt incredibly relevant towards American politics.

On the other hand, while this book claims to offe
Tim Floyd
Mar 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: educ-485
Wow, what a fascinating book. The influence and relationship between individuals and groups described in this book completely messed me up. The research that has been done on individual bias influencing group decisions, the impact of deliberation and cascading thought... there are so many fascinating concepts that surround this study on groupthink!
Paul Froehlich
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
According to conventional wisdom, two heads are better than one. In other words, group decisions should be better than decisions made by individuals since there are more people pondering them. Not so, contend Reid Hastie and Cass Sunstein, who cite evidence that committees and boards can be more error-prone than individuals. The authors explain why, and offer ways to improve group decision-making.

The evidence, write Hastie and Sunstein, indicate that groups commonly succumb to groupthink, where
Leland Beaumont
Jan 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
When do groups make wise decisions? When do they may foolish decisions? What methods can help groups make wiser decisions? Cass Sunstein and Reid Hastie explore these questions in this helpful book. Part one examines several systemic mechanisms that cause groups to fail. Part two describes approaches that help groups avoid these errors.

During deliberations, group pressures may cause members to agree on a falsehood rather than the truth. Incorrect information may cascade through the group and pre
عبدالرحمن عقاب
كتابٌ في فهم أثر المداولات الجماعية للأفكار، وهل في الإجتماع حكمةٌ وعصمة أم غواية وتطرّف.
يجعل الكاتب كتابه في قسمين الأوّل يتحدّث فيه عن أثر النقاش الجماعي لفكرةٍ ما على الفكرة وعلى الفرد. ويبيّن المهالك الكامنة في ذلك. ويشرح الأسباب وراء ذلك، ومردّها إلى أثر وضغط الجماعة على الفرد، وأثر المعلومة الضمنية التي يحسبها الفرد.
بينما يمضي في القسم الثاني في اقتراح أساليب عملية للتحايل على هذا التأثير فيما يخدم الشركات والمؤسسات في اجتماعاتها. (وهو النصف الأقلّ أهمية).
يعتمد الكاتب أسلوب النقاط في بسطه
Charlie Higbie
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I found this book to be very well written and to the point with plenty of references. However, I was looking for a book about group dynamics and this helped fill what I was looking for.
Dawn Trlak-Donahue
Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
Way too theoretical and boring.
Mikhael De vera
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was ok
No clear point. Although there are good insights on behavioral science and organizational development, it only provides a theoretical account on why teams succeed and how why fail.
Eric Bergman
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
Painfully dull. Some good ideas however regarding group decisions and bias. Perhaps best read as a peer reviewed journal article.
Kathy Cowie
This will be in the March-April Issue of Global Business and Organizational Excellence.
Jul 23, 2017 rated it liked it
A book with very interesting content (hence my number of stars is possibly a bit harsh) but it reads like someone's scribbled notes or like someone didn't actually have the time to think about how it reads as a book.

The book would have been better (where better = more actionable), in my opinion, had they spent more time attempting to teach people how to categorise problems and then think about how to get the best out of people (+ how many people and what type of people) in that scenario. I can
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Concise and with references, a good summary of the becoming-very-hip "behavioral science" stuff but thematically focused on group decisions. The primary focus is on evaluating whether groups can correct the mistakes of individuals within the group (surprise: we're not so good at that). Quick read, split into two parts: first, all the mistakes we make and how we make them, followed by practical advise to combat the various forces that drive us in the direction of making horrible mistakes.
Natalyn Houk
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a book I read for a college course. Despite the class nature of the book, I enjoyed Sunstein's thoughts on group think and how that changes our communication and our overall effectiveness as a group. Interesting read.
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Learn, Learn & Learn!
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great layperson summary of groups that work and how to make them more successful.
Oct 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
The concept of Wiser is excellent: take all the recent behavioural research on how people make decisions (popularised in Thinking, Fast and Slow, Predictably Irrational, Scarcity, Nudge, etc.), and see how it applies to groups, rather than individuals.

Is there, for example, an equivalent of Daniel Kahneman's "System 2"—where slower thinking can help avoid instinctive mistakes—for group decisions?

The short answer: Unfortunately not.

The longer answer: Left to their own devices, groups will natura
Mar 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Good academic read on what makes group performance effective or ineffective. Pushing past halo effect and social pressures to hide useful information may protect from amplifying and cascading errors, and polarization.

Delphi method (initial anonymity) has its usefulness in attaining honest feedback when accompanied with reasons for their views. Eventually, you still have to deliberate and try to come up with the best solution.

Finding group members who prefer to work in teams improves the effecti
Sep 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfictie
De schrijvers van Nudge hebben een nieuw boek geschreven, dit keer over het slimmer maken van groepen. Cass Sunstein is een aantal jaar ervaring in de regering van Obama rijker en combineert inzichten en anecdotes uit die tijd met populaire navertellingen van wetenschappelijke artikelen. Het is voor een groot deel Kahnemann-voor-groepen.
Statistische groepen scoren beter dan éénlingen bij het schatten van het aantal knikkers in een glas. Maar zodra groepen met elkaar gaan samenwerken ontstaan er
Jan 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
The main idea

How can we ensure we can make better group decisions? Drawing on the latest business and social science research the authors provide concrete ways in which organizations can improve their group decision making processes.

Interesting tidbit

One of the co-authors, Cass Sunstein, in addition to being a prolific author and public intellectual was also Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

What you really need to know

Group decisions sometimes work.
Sean Goh
Dec 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Groupthink and how to overcome it in a book.

Happy talk, or telling your superiors/group that everything is going well, is a pervasive source of group failures.

Leaders would do well to have a streak of anxiousness to ask the question: What am I missing here?, because more likely than not their subordinates won't ask that question.

Groups can be highly innovative, if divergent thinking is nurtured and minority views are welcome.

A great risk of group deliberation is that it will si
May 19, 2016 rated it liked it
The thesis of this book is that contrary to conventional wisdom, group decision making often yields poor results. It provides examples, reasons and solutions from scenarios involving governments, corporations and committees, as well as offering solutions based on successful group decision making case studies.

It's definitely an informative and useful read, but it can be a bit redundant at times. Many of the reasons groups fail (failure to share information, reluctance of group members to contrad
Apr 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 311-312
Sunstein continues here on the path of his bestselling Nudges (co-authored by James Thaler), though this book is the more technical, perhaps not as marketable, and not coincidentally the better book. Nudges, too, was directed toward bureaucrats and decision-makers, but there the inferences were directed toward the disciplines of education, psychology, politics, design, and business as though the disciplinary frameworks had themselves failed in the cultivation of individual self-interest; too lar ...more
Ray Johns
Jan 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Cass Sunstein and Reid Hastie do an excellent job at exploring the many ways that we tend to shut down discussion, lose or miss invaluable information that can be used to make better decisions and understanding on an issue or problem-solving dilemma. We need to cast as wide a net as possible to advance civic inclusiveness as the path to more stable , cohesive communities . The authors provide an excellent source index on additional reading . It also includes some innovative websites set up by Ob ...more
Feb 22, 2015 rated it liked it
It's a relatively short book that describes how to make group decision making smarter and to avoid many group biases. It provides many US government related antidotes since one of the authors work in the White House. There is one part I totally agree with the authors is about how personality tests are a poor predictor of a person. They point out how the tests lack consistency when people are put into different contexts. Just because you are lazy at home does not mean you are lazy at work. One le ...more
Jan 06, 2015 rated it liked it
This book is essential for anyone involved in regular business meetings or volunteer boards, particularly if you are a manager or organizer. There is no doubt you will gain important insights and tools to help your group function smarter. The reason for the low rating is that (like Gladwell, etc) while there are several fascinating statistics and studies presented, they won't all be relevant to you. Therefore, there are many skimmable pages, which I accounted for in my rating. If I were rating t ...more
Memory Toast
Jan 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
I often like what I learn from non-fiction, but get lazy about reading something that's not a story. The authors of this book seemed to get that about their potential audience and their informative text on the pitfalls and triumphs of groups kept things brief, but enlightening.

The voice of the text balances a fine mixture of educational, entertaining, academic, and practical.

I recommend for those who are in positions of leadership, who are into learning about social sciences, and who want to be
C.H.E. Sadaphal
Apr 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
The bottom line: A powerful analysis of how and why group decisions go terribly wrong, and how to steer groups toward better outcomes.

The fact is, people tend to congregate, and when they do congregate they tend to make decisions together. While groups have the potential to make extraordinary decisions compared to individuals, groups are not inherently better and are capable of making even more catastrophic choices.
Wiser describes the forces at play ...
Jun 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
It gives an in-depth analysis of factors that influence how groups reach a certain decision and the various biases at play. While thinking of all these biases can be overwhelming when you sit to start a group deliberation next time, it can help formulate a plan to reach correct decisions. The book is a definite read for leaders and managers who believe that groups come out with better solutions. ~ Non-Fiction Book Reviews
Mar 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfic, worklife
This was not at all helpful in my goal of making my 20 person team more efficient. It was much more academic that I anticipated. It was about very LARGE groups making very IMPORTANT decisions. But it was very interesting. I learned a lot about the way we think when we work in groups and how surprisingly intelligent and effective the unwashed masses can be. I learned that if I want people to agree with me, I should speak first. But if I want the best answer, I should probably speak last.
Apr 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
For such a short book it was painful to get through. The authors took what seemed like fairly simple theories and made them unnecessarily complicated, providing excessive background and detail on each one.
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Cass R. Sunstein is an American legal scholar, particularly in the fields of constitutional law, administrative law, environmental law, and law and behavioral economics, who currently is the Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration. For 27 years, Sunstein taught at the University of Chicago Law School, where he continues to teach as ...more
“do not be misled by expert bravado or by an expert’s own sense of how he or she is doing. Evidence is a much better guide than an impressive self-presentation.” 1 likes
“Economists suggest that we should assess the value of decisions in terms of two considerations: the costs of decisions and the costs of errors.” 1 likes
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