less of its constant technological evolution. The nature of our
work requires us to have confidence, closeness, and exclusivity in
some regard. The job also demands us to have vetted decisions,
practices, and habits as guides to call on in a moment’s notice.
Have we controlled who is vetting these procedures, implementing them, and impacting our culture? The military takes control
of its culture immediately on a soldier’s indoctrination to the
ranks. He understands the importance of his functionality as a
part of the greater good. When it comes to tactics, procedures,
order of business, station life, and general views of work, the fire
service can be stunted and suffer from debilitating paradigms.
The barriers resulting from group dynamics are prevalent
amidst most cultures. Groupthink is a detractor from progress
regarding cultural change. This is best described by John Hayes,
who describes groupthink as a deterioration of mental efficiency,
realty testing, and moral judgment that is the result of in-group
pressure. (Hayes 2014) Hayes’ eight symptoms of groupthink
include the following:
1. The group feels invulnerable.
2. Warnings that things might be going awry are discounted by
group members in the name of rationality.
3. There is an unquestioned belief in the group’s morality. The
group will ignore questionable stances on moral or ethical
4. Those who dare to oppose the group are called evil, weak, or
5. There is direct pressure on anyone who opposes the prevail-
ing mood of the group.
6. Individuals in the group self-censor if they feel that they are
deviating from group norms.
7. There is an illusion of unanimity. Silence is interpreted as
8. There are often self-appointed people in the group who pro-
tect it from adverse information. These people are referred to
as “mind guards.”
All too often, individuals and organizations fail to exploit the
full potential for learning because they are unaware of the extent to
which their mental models filter out important information. (Hayes,