Advantages and Disadvantages of Group Decision Making
Decision-making is a process of choosing from a set of alternatives in the course of action to achieve the alternatives.
Basic Characteristics of Decision Making
- It is a human process that requires to a large extent, the use of the mind.
- The end process is preceded by reasoning and deliberations.
- Time dimension and time lag are involved.
- It has an aim, and decisions are taken based on the aim or purpose.
- It is a process in which a course of action is selected from the given alternative.
- Decision-making also involves defining the problem and probing.
Group Decision Making
In group decision-making, the members interact with each other, deliberate on the issue, and conclude. In group decision-making, managers at the same or different levels sit together, ponder over the problem, jointly deliberate information and alternatives are hammered out, and collectively assume the responsibility for decisions.
The Board of Directors in the company is a remarkable example of group decision-making. The groups undertake key decisions of the corporation that includes key policy decisions, setting up of plants, and going into a joint venture. At the middle and junior management levels, there may be a committee of executives of the same or different departments to take collective decisions, including a coordination committee, purchase committee, etc.
Firms are comprised of individuals and groups, both informal and formal groups have to decide to resolve their issues. The decision can be arrived at through either consensus or a simple majority. Consensus means that all group members consent and agree to the proposed decision. In contrast, the majority means that it is enough for the majority of the group members to agree on the decision to be arrived on.
Techniques for Group Decision Making
Some of the techniques for group decision-making involve:
- Nominal Group Technique
- Delphi Technique
- Quality Circle
- Fish-bowling Technique
- Consensus mapping technique
The primary goal of brainstorming is to generate ideas rather than analyze ideas. Alex F. Osborn is credited for the development of this technique. Members involved in the brainstorming range from 5 to 10. They sit in the classroom techniques and generate ideas from the free interaction. The leader of the team identifies the issue and explains it to the team members and the rules that need to be followed. All these ideas are written on the blackboard for everybody to see so they can improve upon them.
Basic Guidelines that are Observed During Brainstorming Sessions are:
- No Criticism is permitted
- A higher number of ideas is desirable
- Combinations and improvements are sought from the members
- Freewheeling is always welcome. The Wilder the idea, the better it is. It is easier to jot down than think up ideas.
The concept of brainstorming is very beneficial in the armed forces, agencies, and governmental and non-governmental organizations. An idea generated by the other may become a trigger point for the other member to suggest more ideas. The duration for an ideal brainstorming session is 40-60 minutes, but the brainstorming session is not hundred percent full proof, and it has some limitations:
- It is not effective when the problem is unclear and complex
- It is a costly technique if experts from outside are invited
- It might produce superficial ideas or solutions
- Arranging the session is a time-consuming process
3. Nominal Group Technique
The technique is applied when a fair amount of innovation and idea generation is employed. A nominal group exists only as the members have very few interactions before making a decision. It is a structured technique and unfolds through the following process:
- Around six to ten participants were brought to the table and presented their concerns.
- They frame their solutions independently, often writing on papers.
- Their thoughts, opinions, and ideas are shared in a structured format. The discussion does not take place in this technique.
- A few minutes are given to ask the question, which is meant for just clarifications.
- Group members individually designate their preferences for the best alternatives by secret ballot.
- The group decision is announced.
This Technique has Primarily Two Advantages
- There is no chance of domination by any member.
- It helps overpower the negative effects of power and status differences among the group members, and it can be used to look for the issues to produce more ideas.
Some of the Disadvantages of the Techniques are
- It limits the creativity.
- Members may feel angered as they did not have a chance to benefit from the cross-fertilization of ideas.
3. Delphi Technique
It was developed by the Rand Corporation as a technique to gather experts' judgments for the application in developing the forecasts. It consists of 4 steps:
- A panel of experts on the particular problem is drawn from both inside and outside the firms.
- Each expert is asked to make an anonymous prediction or forecast.
- Each expert is provided composite feedback on the method of various experts who have answered the problem.
- Expert has the freedom to change his perspective based on the received feedback.
The process is repeated on several occasions until a consensus is reached. This technique is applied for:
- Determine or develop a range of possible alternatives
- Discover or show underlying presumptions of information leading to a different judgment
- Asking for information that may generate a consensus on the part of the respondent group
- Interrelated judgments on a topic spanning a wide range of disciplines and
- Educate the respondent group on the diverse and interrelated aspects of the problem
It is time-consuming, but this limitation can be overcome using emails and electronic emissions.
4. Fish-Blowing Technique
The technique is a variation of the brainstorming process; however, it is more structural and focused. The group of experts sits in a circle with a single chair of the circle. One group member or leader is proposed to sit in the center of the chair and share his opinion of the issues and his solution proposition. The other group members can pose their questions, and crosstalk is prohibited. Once the member in the group has finished talking and his opinion is fully understood, he leaves the center of the chair and gives his opinion in light of the views expressed earlier. The members can throw their questions to the center based upon the new ideas presented by the member in the center and the ideas presented earlier. Sharing between the chair and the group members continues until each member's turn to occupy the central chair is over.
All the members work on the same information, though their opinions differ on the issue. After all the experts have expressed their opinion from the centre chair, the group will discuss the recommended alternatives and conclude.
5. Quality Circles
It is a work group of 8-10 employees and supervisors with shared responsibility areas. The member of the team often interact with each other once a week on the enterprise time, and company premises to discuss the quality of their problem, suggest solutions, examine the cause of the problem and take corrective measures. They are responsible for solving quality problems and producing and evaluating their opinions. However, the top executive has the ultimate control and takes the final call for proposed solutions. It is not presumed that employees can analyze and solve the issue. Therefore, part of the quality circle concept includes teaching the employee's group communication skills, measurement and problem analysis methods, and various quality strategies.
Some typical efforts in improving production methods and quality involve reducing defects, downtime, scrap, and rework, which could lead to cost reduction and increased productivity.
The technique of quality circle has been refined over the years. It is now followed by recognition of their achievements. Defects, scrap, rework, and downtime are also expected to lead to cost reduction.
Achieve the Following Objectives:
- Overall improvement of the quality of products manufactured by the enterprise.
- Improvement of production methods and productivity of the enterprise.
- Self-development of the employees who take part in quality circles.
- Encouragement of innovative ideas among the employees.
- Building high morale of employees by developing teamwork in the organization Quality circles have gained wide acceptance not only in Japan and the U.S./ many other countries, including India. The experience of the organization's quality circles has been encouraging. They have been reported to have achieved the following advantages:
(I) Quality circles have proved to be a valuable tool for increasing productivity, improving quality, and reducing wastage.
(II) Forming quality circles in Japan and other countries have helped bring out several innovations in products and technology.
(III) Quality circles help develop the participants as they are encouraged to Produce innovative ideas and find new ways to improve product quality.
Individual vs. Group Thinking
Group decision-making is generally better than individual decision-making, and the reason is listed below:
- Vast Pools of Knowledge and Expertise: In Individual decision-making, the wisdom and expertise are limited to just the individual and while in group decision-making, every member brings different expertise, and that gets reflected in the decision-making.
- The Number of Ideas and Alternative Solutions: Groups can propose more ideas than individuals can produce. As group members have different backgrounds, cultures, outlooks, and religions, there is more chance that they will come up with better solutions and alternatives that others would not have thought of before.
- Vigilance: It is assumed that group members are more vigilant than individuals. When some problems come to the table, it is natural that an individual cannot look from all angles.
- Personal Bias: An individual might take an incorrect decision due to his biasness. Since, in group decision-making, many people are involved in the process, chances of personal bias tend to be eliminated. The outcome of the decision of the group is more reliable.
Advantages of Group Decision Making
- Diverse Specialisation: In the case of cross-functional teams, the group members could have expertise in different fields. It would allow the problem to be deeply examined from several points of view. Decisions that arise from the examination would be comprehensive, rational, and exhaustive.
- Wide Knowledge Base: The knowledge base of the group members would be large from the individual one
- Participation: Group Decision format allows the participation of all people involved in the decision. It would give a sense of satisfaction and responsibility to the participating members.
- Removal of Biasness: The scope of biasness in decision-making is minimized. Biasness creeps into the individual decision-making mechanism.
- Training: Group Decision making format can be used as the training ground for the new members to learn new techniques of decision-making and communication skills.
- Effective Implementation: Group decisions are implemented effectively does not see many huddles as the views of all group members are considered.
Disadvantages of the Group Decision Making
- Time Consuming: Group Decision making is a time-consuming process since it involves listening views of every individual present in the account and taking them into account. Greater differences among the group member will consume more time.
- Leader Domination: Sometimes, the group leader tries to dominate the deliberation process, and the decision tends to become biased.
- Social Pressure: Members of the group may agree for the sake of consensus since the social pressure to conform not be the odd one out.
- Goal Conflict: When there is a dispute between the group and the organizational goal, the outcome of the decision is very detrimental to the organization's interest.
- Suppression of Dissent: Group decision-making may become "Groupthink". In this case, for full consensus, Group members may override the motivation for disagreeing or evaluate another alternative. Naturally, the effectiveness of that decision will be questionable.
- Risky Shift: Group Decision making may prove to be a risky shift than individual decision-making. It is a collective call, and the group may get tempted to call for a risky decision than warranted by the situation.