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Consensus and 12 Angry Men

In: Business and Management

Submitted By funshi9
Words 867
Pages 4
I recently watched a dramatic “case study” on group behavior and communication: the 1957 movie 12 Angry Men. The movie shows how one individual shaped and ultimately changed the direction of a group decision. The story goes that 12 jurors must reach a verdict that could require the death penalty for an 18-year-old defendant charged with stabbing his father to death. The jurors must reach consensus—the verdict must be unanimous.
When they begin their deliberations, 11 vote guilty. Only one sees the case differently and is open to considering that there may be reasonable doubt. He raises his concerns about the trial, the evidence, and the performance of the boy’s lawyer, and continues to ask questions for the others to consider. He also takes the extra effort to provide evidence of his own, for example, purchasing the identical knife used in the murder at a local pawn shop (this knife was purported to be unusual and one of a kind) and pacing the distance the witness claimed he crossed in 15 seconds. It actually took 3 times longer.
He wasn’t the strongest voice nor the most passionate believer. He simply had a reasonable doubt and he felt he owed it to the boy on trial to ensure there was sufficient discussion to justify their verdict. He did not bully the others to come to his conclusions, but he stood firm against the bullying of others who would shut down the discussion just to be done with it.
Collaborative groups use consensus for decision making. To reach consensus, each individual must say that they will support the decision. The decision does not have to be their first choice, but they must agree they can accept it. If anyone does not agree, the group continues to discuss the issue until a solution is reached that is agreed to by all. Often, because of the nature of the discussion process, the solution reached is innovative, different than anyone...

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