Leadership & Teams #03

Group Decision Making

Inclusiveness  results in better decisions than any individual can make. Using a group of decision makers to make a decision should improve decision making as

  • It results in more informed decision as more decision means more information.
  • It also means less biased decision as there are multiple perspectives.

Process Loss

It is the inability of a group to take advantage of the additional information and perspectives available in a group. There are three critical causes of process loss in groups.

  • Composition Problem
  • Participation Problem
  • Influence Problem

Composition Problem: Decision makers are often not diversity seeking; instead they rely on individuals who are like them; as a result quality of decision suffers. Decisions can be better informed when individuals reflect a diverse set of perspectives and information.

Participation Problem: A diverse group can only make a more informed decision if the group members share their unique information and perspectives.

Individuals who are included in decision making but don’t participate are Spectators.

It happens for several reasons:

  • A larger group means less time for everyone to speak. This can be resolved by dividing a decision making group into smaller groups of preliminary deliberations.
  • Another reason can be national or organizational culture that encourages spectating. This can be resolved by asking everyone to say something e.g. self introduction, which makes it easier to share unique information and perspectives.

Good leaders are vigilant about spectators and draw individuals into the discussion. Active listening also encourages participation.

Influence Problem: Decision making means some degree of uncertainty, this makes people susceptible to be influenced by others. In such situation the unique information and perspectives may be influenced by those who have already shared theirs.

It happens for two different reasons

  • Individuals may be influenced due to uncertainty.
  • Individuals may be afraid to disagree with the group.

It is important to get group members to commit to share their unique information and perspectives before they know what others are going to share.

Influence problem can also be avoided by legitimizing dissent i.e.to make group members feel it is OK to disagree.

The composition of group can also help as difference between group members helps make dissent seem more natural.

Reference: Lectures by Prof. Gregory Northcraft


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