When I first had the idea for Simili, it was based on a pretty simple observation. I thought “this whole “where should we go to eat” debate happens pretty frequently in my life, and I’ll bet I’m not alone in this. This is a situation that could be better.”
It wasn’t until months later that the idea of “groupthink” came onto my radar. I’d enlisted some help from another Brandcenter alum who was willing to brainstorm with me, and her observation was something along the lines of “you’re disrupting groupthink.”
That was an intriguing idea. Wikipedia confirmed that groupthink is “the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility,” and as I thought about it more, I began to see Simili in a different light. I had already noted that if people would just voice their preferences, it would be easier to reach a decision, but social pressures were preventing that from happening. This all became more clear to me when there was a name attached to the problem, and finally truly sank in when I read Clayton Christensen’s Competing Against Luck.
I was at that point able to grasp that Simili is not just solving a functional problem; it’s also solving an emotional one. There are elements of the “where should we go eat” question that are purely about logistics or other concrete concerns: things like restaurant location, ambiance, need for reservations, type of food, etc. But there are also elements of this decision that are harder to pin down: a reluctance to be the person “responsible” for the happiness of the group, or consideration for people with special dietary needs who may not want to feel “difficult,” for example.
If it’s successful, Simili will be a tool to help us all get beyond groupthink. That means we’ll get outcomes that are closer to optimal, with less effort – and less emotional friction. Maybe there will even be a new name for what we accomplish – the antidote to groupthink. Co-think? (Oooh, I would SO love to coin a word…)