Different Techniques in Group Decision-Making
Employees often work in groups and make decisions that affect the whole company. Moreover, sometimes the complexity of a problem calls for pooling expertise and opinions to make a sound decision. Also, participation improves employee commitment to decisions. Decision-making in groups is not easy; for example, the group may polarize and refuse to reach consensus or it may form a group think and stick to a familiar mutually acceptable decision without considering better alternatives. Knowledge of group decision-making techniques can help managers effectively steer group decision-making processes.
Brainstorming is a popular group decision-making technique that is used for generating ideas. In brainstorming, the leader of the session presents a problem or question, clarifies the rules of the session and then the group offers ideas in a round-robin format. Ideas are written down so that every member can see them. Brainstorming does not solve the problem but helps generate creative ideas. As a result, quantity of ideas counts and members do not criticize ideas. To be successful, the leader of a brainstorming session must understand the problem and be able to create a relaxed and creative air.
This group decision-making technique is used to identify problems or to evaluate alternatives. In this technique, members of the group spend five to 10 minutes writing their ideas without discussion. Then, they report their ideas individually. Ideas are written on a flip chart, and individuals try to add to the ideas. In the next phase, group members vote or rank the ideas privately. With private voting, strong members of the group can not affect the results. After voting, the group discusses results and generates more ideas. The idea generation, voting and discussion cycle can continue until a satisfactory decision is reached.
The Delphi method helps the group reach consensus without the influence of strong members of the group and the tendency to rush for a decision at the end of a meeting. It is a structured variant of the traditional expert polls and is usually used in forecasting. In this method, a questionnaire is mailed to a group of experts; administrators aggregate the results and send a second questionnaire with the results of the first round. Several rounds of questionnaires and feedbacks help respondents reach consensus on the debated issue. The administrators of the Delphi method make a decision based on the results of the rounds.
The dialectical inquiry ensures that decision-makers consider all alternatives and opposing views in decision-making. Groups of people debate their opposing views in the presence of the decision-maker. The devil’s advocate method is a related approach in which a member of the group deliberately criticizes the favored decision. This helps managers make an informed decision.