Avoiding Groupthink in Your Work

When you’re building a business, it’s easy to get bogged down in minutiae, jargon, and tunnel vision. You start assuming that everyone understands your product or service as well as you and your team members do. Of course, this is rarely the case. When consciously avoiding groupthink, how can you and your colleagues break out of your own bubble and address an old problem with a new perspective? What methods can you rely on to get feedback and understand your customers’ pain points and desires?

I spoke with several entrepreneurs who offered the following advice.

Avoiding groupthink by working across teams

McKinzie Brocail works at Medology, the parent company of several telehealth e-commerce brands. She recommends approaching employees outside of the development team to solicit advice. “We have a customer support team that uses our websites frequently while assisting customers, and they are a great source of learning ways we could better the sites and enhance the user experience,” she said. “We also have a live chat team who assist customers and have found occasional issues.” You can also get fresh eyes from freelancers, vendors, and partners, who have some familiarity with your brand but aren’t part of your company’s day-to-day operations.

Avoiding groupthink by solving problems, not adding features

Sydney Liu is co-founder and CEO of Commaful, a short story website. When asking for user feedback, he says, “one rule we followed very early on … was to ask about why and what the users are doing rather than what features they wanted. If people asked for features, we’d dig into why they wanted that feature. By studying behaviors and the reasons for these behaviors, we found that we were able to avoid being in a rut or digging too deep into one hole.”

Start by asking good questions. Have users describe in their own words how your product works and look for common words and themes. Dig into the values they glean from your service. How does your site or product make them feel? If they were recommending you to a friend, what would they emphasize? What are their aspirations when interacting with your business? Are these hopes being adequately met?

Avoiding groupthink by finding new outlets for research

Focus groups and customer surveys are the go-to methods for collecting feedback. But don’t phone it in — get creative with them. McKinzie Brocail sets up modal surveys using HotJar for Medology’s various sites, asking a quick question like, “I see you chose not to purchase today. May we ask why?”

But think outside the survey and focus group, too. Neil McLaren, founder of Vaping.com, recommends communicating heavily through online forums, social groups, and “anywhere else your audience frequents regularly.” Read what they read, watch what they watch. “With this fresh input,” he says, “your team will constantly get new ideas and will have more success in delivering to your customer exactly what they are willing to pay for.”

Did you know?

You can use PickFu to survey your customers for FREE.

Please note, you have to be logged in to your PickFu account to access this feature.

Simply start a new poll by clicking the orange “+New Poll” button on the top right corner. Then input your question. You can ask an open-ended question, or you can give your respondents choices to select from. Read our tips on writing unbiased poll questions here. Once your survey question is ready, click the “Next” button.

You’ll be brought to a screen that asks whether you want to use PickFu’s panel of respondents or your own audience. If you want us to bring people to your poll, choose whatever options fit for you and check out by purchasing PickFu credits. If you want to utilize the free option and bring your own respondents, choose “My Own Audience.” You’ll have two weeks to get up to 50 people to respond to your poll.

Et voilà! You’re already avoiding groupthink!

Learn more: Build a better business by testing your business names, ideas, logos, marketing copy, and website designs on PickFu.

Kim Kohatsu

Kim Kohatsu is the founder of Charles Ave Marketing — Madison Ave for small businesses and startups. She loves SEM, business, writing, presidential history, and pandas.