Group Decision Making Techniques - Organizational Behavior

1) Interacting groups: the most common form of group decision-making takes place in interacting groups. In these groups, members meet face-to-face and rely on both verbal and Nonverbal interaction to communicate with each other. But interacting groups often censor themselves and pressure individual members toward conformity of option. Brainstorming, the nominal group technique, and electronic meetings have been proposed as ways to reduce many of the problems inherent in the traditional interactive group.

2) Brainstorming: brainstorming is meant to overcome pressures for conformity in the interacting group that retard the development of creating alternatives. It does this by utilizing an idea-generation process that specifically encourages any and all alternatives, while withholding any criticism of those alternatives.

In a typical brainstorming session, a half dozen to a dozen people sit around a table. The group leader states the problem in a clear manner so that it is understood by all participants. Members then "freewheel" as many alternatives as they can in a given length of time. No criticism is allowed, and all the alternatives are recorded for later discussion and analysis. That one idea stimulates other and that judgments of even the most bizarre suggestions are withheld until later encourage group members t "thing the unusual." Brainstorming, however, is merely a process for generating ideas. The following two techniques go further by offering methods of actually arriving at a preferred solution.

The four basic rules of brainstorming are as under.

I. No criticism is allowed.

II. Freewheeling is always: the wilder the idea the better it is. It is easier to jot down than to think up ideas.

III. Quantity is desirable.

IV. Combination and improvements are sought from the members.

3) Nominal group technique: the nominal group technique restricts discussion or interpersonal communication during the decision-making process, hence, the term nominal. Group members are all physically present, as in a traditional committee meeting, but members operate independently. Specifically, a problem is presented and then the following steps take place:

I. Members meet as  a group but, before any discussion takes place, each member independently writes down his or her ideas on the problem.

II. After this silent period, each member presents one idea to the group. Each member takes his or her turn, presenting a single idea until all ideas have been presented and recorded. No discussion takes place until all ideas have been recorded.

III. The group now discusses the ideas for clarity and evaluates them.

IV. Each group member silently and independently rank-orders the ideas. The idea with the highest aggregate ranking determines the final decision.

The chief advantage of the nominal group technique is that it permits the group to meet formally but does not restrict independent thinking, as does the interacting group.

4) Electronic meeting: the most approach to group decision-making blends the nominal group technique with sophisticated computer technology. It is called the computer -assisted group or electronic meeting. Once the technology is In place, the concept is simple, up to 50 people sit around a horse  shoe-shaped table, empty except for a series of computer terminals. Issues are presented to participants and they type their responses onto their computer screen. Individual comments, as well as aggregate votes, are displayed on a projection screen in the room.

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