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Group Decision-Making Techniques

Free «Group Decision-Making Techniques» Essay Sample

Effective decision is an imperative characteristic of a successful organization. Some of the best decisions made require the participation and contribution of all team members. Group decision-making is a participatory practice where different individuals acting mutually examine conditions or problems, consider and appraise the available courses of action, and then select the most suitable from the available alternatives. The process and technique of decision-making may be structured or unstructured, and the efficacy of the selected technique may be caused by many factors including the structure of the team, demographic composition, location of members, nature of the problem as well as time factors among others. As such, various group decision-making methods suit differently. This paper analyses the effectiveness of the brainstorming, the Delphi, and the Nominal Group methods when applied to distinct situations.

In the first scenario, brainstorming would be the most appropriate decision-making technique. The fact that nobody knows what needs to be done requires the input of all team members. Relatively unstructured, brainstorming encourages all participants to share their ideas, views, and opinions (Bolland & Fletcher, 2012). This ensures that all viable decision alternatives are collected. Sims (2002) asserts that brainstorming gives room for new and original ideas, which is needed to solve the company crisis. The company management team is headed by extroverts but since they are open to conventional thinking, brainstorming would be the most appropriate technique to get a working decision.

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Rao (2010) asserts that brainstorming is suitable as negative feedback is forbidden until all the involved members have presented their alternatives. This perspective is supported by Bolland and Fletcher (2012) who posit that brainstorming gives a chance to have all ideas, regardless of how wild they are, to be presented. Brainstorming works on the premise that by forbidding negative feedback and waiting for all members to give their views, valuable alternatives will not be overlooked (Pearson Learning Solutions, 2014). Once the company team members have submitted all alternatives, an evaluating process begins, and the applicability of all the presented ideas is evaluated. Therefore, brainstorming will be the most suitable in this case since the team members are likely to present the best ideas to beat the competitors. Moreover, time is of the essence to rectify the situation, and brainstorming is relatively time convenient.

In the second scenario, the nominal group system would work best. The technique is structured and requires members to write or compose their responses or a list of their ideas which they deem as suitable alternatives. In the case study, the members would thus promote different options which they think would apply in minimizing the company overrun costs. These ideas, explains Sims (2002), are usually recorded privately. Griffin and Moorhead (2013) suggest that this technique is the most beneficial when one group seems to dominate a conversation. In the case study, the team consists of both extroverts and introverts, but the extroverts usually dominate in the group meetings and conversations. The introverts, therefore, are likely to be reluctant to express their views and opinions verbally. Rao (2009) argues that when this happens, valuable ideas are likely to be neglected. Thus, the fact that verbal exchanges among the group members are limited to clarification requests means that the extroverts are less likely to dominate the conversation and steer it to one side.


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As was usually observed, meetings among the team tend to drift into tangential subjects. This means that a lot of time is usually spent on one idea or agenda. This further explains why the nominal group technique is the best for this case. The time is limited as a quick decision needs to be reached. The nominal group technique of making decisions ensures that the members stay focused on the task at hand. Furthermore, if extroverts usually dominate conversations of the team, they are likely to disregard the ideas from introverts. However, nominal group technique gives no room for the criticism of ideas (Pearson Learning Solutions, 2014). When all members have written their proposals, the group can then engage in a discussion of different options. This process translates to a ranking system where the members rank existing alternatives in the order of their applicability and suitability to addressing the problem (Bolland & Fletcher, 2012). If this technique is used in the case presented, then the best solutions to addressing the overrun costs will be selected without anyone being intimidated. Time will also be saved by applying the nominal group system, and all members will have chance to contribute to the process of decision-making.

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The Delphi technique would be the most suitable for solving the third scenario where the company is in need of new software. The organization also has IT managers and experts from all over the world. The Delphi technique would be the most adavantageous as it allows the opinion of experts to be gathered and analyzed, and the best solution selected without having to convene the members together. Bolland and Fletcher (2012) as well as Griffin and Moorhead (2013) collectively assert that this group decision-making technique is the most appropriate when the individuals in the group possess specific knowledge and a high level of expertise regarding the issue at hand. As seen in the scenario, the group members, though scattered in different parts of the world, have immense insight into the system software. Moreover, the Delphi technique is suitable since, with the participants’ different locations, and hence, time zones, it is quite hard to arrange a meeting at the same time.

In general, the technique asks each member to independently submit their ideas through a questionnaire. The input or questionnaire response may be submitted through emails, electronic bulletin board, fax, or through an online discussion board (Rao, 2010). Results from the first questionnaire given to the experts will be analyzed and sent back to the experts. This will trigger new solutions on the software issue, and a second questionnaire will be filled and returned. After such stages, the best solutions and suitable choices will be reached. This technique will work well for the situation described in the third scenario because the decision is not urgent. However, three months needed to make a decision gives the experts ample time to consult and take the best possible course of action.

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In conclusion, the nominal group, Delphi and brainstorming techniques are effective group decision-making techniques. However, each of these techniques is suits best in a particular scenario as they all have their advantages and disadvantages. Out of the three techniques presented, brainstorming seems to be the most useful for the largest number of situations because it is designed to encourage all team members to present their ideas and alternatives. The fact that negative feedback is not allowed before all members have given their ideas means all possible and available alternatives, no matter how wild, are considered. Besides, during the alternative evaluation stage, each member has a chance to explain their ideas and expound on them. This would not be achieved in the nominal group method as the responses are written privately and ranked according to their efficiency in the situation. Viable ideas might thus be overlooked as the member who submitted it might not have made it clear and might be afraid to speak in front of others. In addition, compared to the Delphi technique, brainstorming is relatively time saving and is most suitable for urgent decisions. Moreover, the technique is the most applicable in many situations as it gives a chance for conventional thinking among the members.

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