The advantages of discussion groups include increased productivity, enhanced creativity and the ability to reach a general consensus among all participants. Some of the disadvantages are the potential for group members to slip into "groupthink," the differences among separate personality types and the time required to establish discussion groups.
Groupthink is considered the primary disadvantage of discussion groups. Groupthink is a condition in which a group of people develop similar mindsets and ideas because of their interactions, often resulting in peer pressure, stereotypical perspectives and the potential for some members to censor themselves.
Additionally, the members of a discussion group might have different personality types. Some are followers, while others are leaders. The leaders tend to "take over" discussion groups, leaving the followers with little or no input. Since discussion groups require considerable time for planning and execution, such problems reduce the usefulness of this practice.
The advantages of discussion groups often outweigh the disadvantages. These groups bring together people of different backgrounds and experiences, which creates a richer and more creative atmosphere. Everyone feels as though he or she has a voice in the group, which means all perspectives are taken into consideration.
Discussion groups can be used to generate ideas for marketing or advertising within a business, to facilitate learning in educational settings or to generate ideas for products or services within a company. Discussion groups are always most effective when participants consistently evaluate their methods and make adjustments based on the group dynamic.