Group Decision Making

The purpose of this essay is to identify the strengths and weaknesses of group decision making which may perhaps lead to an improvement in organisational decision making. In order for an organisation to exist there must be a collection of people trying to achieve the same purpose. Several issues arise when a group comes together to discuss ideas and formulate plans effecting the organisation. Performance becomes more effective and efficient when proper techniques are used to accomplish a specific task or activity. Brainstorming, the nominal group technique as well as electronic meetings have the potential to assist in complicated situations.

Furthermore, with the assumption that these methods facilitate, increasing organisational decision making may occur. Interacting groups rely on verbal and non verbal interface to communicate. Poorly organised meetings cause members to second guess themselves and hold back alternative ideas due to the hidden pressures of judgment and disapproval of recommendations. Brainstorming utilizes “an idea-generation process that specifically encourages any and all alternatives while withholding any criticism” (Robbins, Judge, Millett & Waters-Marsh, 2008). There are two components of brainstorming.

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First, free wheeling means to share and record all ideas concurrently as they are being expressed. The downfall associated with this method is known as production blocking. Production blocking is a common issue that forces a disruption in brain activity caused by the “inability for more than one group member to talk at the same time” (Kerr and Tindale, 2004). The randomness of speaking turns distracts proper concentration and train of thought. The second method is Round-Robin, this is where members have the chance to speak at a precise time and has the opportunity to pass if needed (Kelly, 1994).

Simply one out of the ordinary idea can fuel many others into thinking out of the box. Both methods of brainstorming allow members to join with input and create large quantity of ideas. Once criticism is taken out of the picture, people feel capable of expressing their ideas more openly. The brainstorming technique is useful in many aspects as well as improving organisational decision making. There needs to be some form of organisation in order to maintain control and create an outcome. The next two techniques go further than brainstorming, focusing more on the arrival of a solution. Although they take more time, group decisions tend to incorporate the maximum amount of data and experience, plus a diversity of opinion. Studies have shown that people who participate in group decisions are more likely to implement them” (Kelly, 1995). “The Nominal group technique combines aspects of silent voting” with the restriction of discussion forcing members to function independently (Kelly, 1994). The problem is clearly defined and before discussion occurs each member must separately jot down their thoughts.

Next each member presents their thoughts until all have been recorded. Then the group discusses and evaluates each while silently and anonymously ranking each idea in order of best solution. An obvious advantage is voting anonymously. This gives group members the opportunity for equal participation, fewer distractions and the minimization of pressure to consent with a group’s main solution. It “permits the group to meet formally but doesn’t restrict independent thinking” which is an important function to developing and arriving to at a solution (Judge, Millett & Waters-Marsh, 2008).

A disadvantage is that some opinions may not be joined in the voting process, but this could be an indicator that this solution will malfunction. This structured approach helps organisational decision making by reevaluating the fairness of each vote. Every vote is considered equal reassuring members that their vote actually has a purpose. As technology develops over time we tend to use more and more of its useful attributes. This next method combines the nominal group technique with computer technology.

Computer assisted group or electronic meetings are evolving into the workplace all around the world. Technology is a valuable source and can be used in many different ways. This approach requires members me to sit in front of a computer terminal and anonymously type a response or idea concerning the issue at hand. “Individual comments, as well as aggregate votes, are displayed on a projection screen” (Judge, Millett & Waters-Marsh, 2008). With a simple push of a button members can feel secure and be honest in their responses without consequences.

This tactic enables members to introduce ideas all at once eliminating the sense of stepping on others feet or interrupting. “Evaluations of numerous studies found that electronic meetings actually led to decreased group effectiveness, required more time to complete tasks, and resulted in reduced member satisfaction when compared to face-to-face groups” (Judge, Millett & Waters-Marsh, 2008). “Given the importance of decisions, it is worthwhile to explore methods that can help teams choose the best courses of action” (Ullman).

Each of the three decision making techniques identified have there own individual strengths and weaknesses. It is up to the head leader to figure out which method best suits. Using these techniques will guide the organisations into more efficiency and effectiveness. Group decision making generates more information and knowledge allowing input verbally and nonverbally. Both assist when enhanced knowledge of the side effects of criticism and judgment are put forth. Organisational decision making improves when group meetings are observed and evaluated.

If one technique doesn’t suit that particular purpose, try another. References Kaner, Lind, Toldi, Frisk & Berger. (1996). Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making. Canada: New Society Publishers Kelly, P. Keith. (1995). Team Decision-Making Techniques. USA: Richard Chang Associates, Inc. Robbins, Judge, Millett & Waters-Marsh. (2008). Organisational Behaviour. Australia: Pearson Education Ullman. Journal Team decisions. Mechanical Engineering; Mar2002, Vol. 124 Issue 3, p15, 3p, 1 diagram, 1 color

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