The tyranny of conformity can cause groups to make decisions that go against each member’s individual preference. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

“Have you noticed that things got weird a few years ago… that the world makes less and less sense,” asked Konstantin Kisin, British comedian, satirist, and podcast host, in a recent video monologue. “Why did no one say anything?”

During his monologue, Kisin brings up something called ‘the Abilene Paradox,’ a term coined by management expert Jerry B. Harvey in the summer 1974 issue of Organizational Dynamics.

In a few simple words, the paradox is summarized simply as the illusion of consensus. It’s what happens when a group makes a decision that goes against the individual preferences of each of its members due to a lack of open communication.

The Abilene Paradox is different from groupthink. With groupthink, the individual doesn’t act contrary to their own conscious wishes, and therefore the result is generally positive feelings about the group’s decision.

How is the Abilene Paradox relevant today? Well, ask yourself: are you pleased with what you see in society around you? If not, why aren’t you speaking out loudly?

Read more about the tyranny of conformity, and what you can do about it: Are we on the road to Abilene?