Source for this blog: From Great Courses titled "The Art of Critical Decision Making," by Professor Michael A. Robert from Bryant University. I highly recommend this course.
Bay of Pigs was a disaster and John F. Kennedy took full responsibility for that. What led to the disaster was what was later coined by Irving Janis as "groupthink," which he explains in his book "Victims of Groupthink."
Others had doubt about the operation but did not speak up, and there was no thorough decision making process used to reach the final decision. The mission failed and was a major embarrassment for Kennedy and the United States, but, even worse, it bolstered Castro's grip on Cuba that still holds to this day
Did Kennedy learn anything from this debacle?.
He certainly did and helped him immensely during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
According to Professor Roberto, he states in lecture 10 that "the most important decision John F. Kennedy made in the Cuban Missile Crisis is not the naval blockade --- it's these process choices he made based in 1961 in deciding how to decide."
Some of the things Kennedy's team did that helped prevent groupthink include:
1) Look at multiple alternatives
2) Keep probing the assumptions
3) Have a vigorous debate
4) Take a broad perspective instead of looking it at from a siloed perspective
5) Remove any deference to experts
6) Treat everyone as equals so people would feel free to communicate
They also made sure that the meetings were not held in the White House where it would have been difficult to do things outside established protocols and rules. Also, they had Robert Kennedy and Ted Sorensen, close advisers to Kennedy, acting as intellectual watchdogs to look into proposal, poke holes and offer criticisms. They wanted to make sure that the group was doing a thorough due diligence with what they were proposing.