An explosion at the Naval Air Station, Ford Island, Pearl Harbour (Pearl Harbor) during the Japanese attack. Sailors stand amid wrecked watching as the USS Shaw explodes in the center background. The USS Nevada is also visible in the middle background, with her bow headed toward the left. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
An explosion at the naval air station, Pearl Harbor, during the Japanese attack. A study by Irving Janis detected groupthink at the root of such foreign policy disasters as the US failure to anticipate the attack © Getty

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Andrew Hill's challenge

The FT's management editor sets a weekly test of your business, strategy and management skills.

Irving Janis, the psychologist who devised a theory to explain and combat "groupthink", would have celebrated his 100th birthday this month. As I point out in my column this week, the theory itself is nearly half a century old and still has the capacity to lead governments and companies down the path to catastrophe. What is more, new versions of the concept — industry-think, customer-think and data-think — risk luring businesses further off course.

Some of the ways of combating groupthink are well-known — greater diversity, encouragement of dissent, impartial leadership. For my challenge this week, I'd like to hear your suggestions for new ways of tackling data-think, which I define as an overconfidence in the certainty provided by abundant information. How would you offset the temptation for data-obsessed leaders to think they are omniscient, missing the "weak signals" of trouble ahead? Send your concise ideas to

My challenge last week was to come up with a way to negotiate with Donald Trump. I liked Tom English's "soft power" approach: "Express emotion and how I feel about Trump’s stance on issues under negotiation. It is nigh impossible to argue against emotion with logic or rationality; emotion often defeats logic." He points out that emotion — particularly on the part of Trump supporters — has served the US president well so far, "much to the chagrin of his supporters".

The New Yorker's in-depth look at the shadowy world of cyber attacks and counter-attacks is this week's further reading. Nicholas Schmidle has examined the legality of hacking back against illegal hacks of government and corporate networks and unearthed some fascinating ethical, legal and technological questions. One entrepreneur tells him companies "want to be more proactive, but a lot of them don’t know what’s illegal and what’s not — or even what’s within the art of the possible".

Professor's picks

Every week a business school professor or academic recommends useful FT articles.

Marianne Lewis, dean of Cass Business School in London, selects:

Ending men-only panels is a spur to creativity I enjoyed this piece by Michael Skapinker in which he argues that event panels which feature a diverse range of speakers bring fresh perspectives to events. I was encouraged to read that the FT recently declared an end to men-only panels and encourages its male staff to only appear on panels which have more of a gender balance.

It is important for our students – the leaders of tomorrow – to consider gender balance and diversity both in their studies and their careers so they can lead their organisations with creativity, purpose and inclusivity.

‘Do not take it personally’: leaders on working under pressure My research focuses on the paradoxes of leadership – exploring tensions that pervade organisations and how leaders can best cope and thrive. So I was interested to read this piece in which business leaders offer their advice on dealing with adversity.

All of the leaders interviewed appeared to have embraced paradoxes of leadership, learning how to balance challenges through blending confidence and humility, courage and vulnerability. Their examples demonstrate balancing as an essential skill that fosters resilience and continuous learning – a skill we seek to help students value and develop during their business school experience.

Jonathan Moules's business school news

The invasion of business school campuses by big tech firms, and most especially Amazon, vacuuming up graduates with offers of dazzling data science jobs and big salary increases has left the traditional hirers of MBA talent, the consultancies and investment banks, fighting a rearguard action.

However, their tactics so far are proving effective, according to the data contained in the latest FT ranking of MBA courses for those looking to enter finance, which we published this week.

Behind the hype about the big tech takeover, the fact is that banks and venture capital firms are still pretty attractive options to ambitious high achievers, who seek both interesting work challenges and a good pay package.

The big names of banking today may well be “disrupted” by a new fintech venture, but whoever this is will still effectively be a bank.

Banks, after all, are where even the tech firms keep their money, as shown in the growth in MBA banking jobs on the west coast of the US, where the tech giants are based.

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Edited by Wai Kwen Chan —

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