10 Effective Group Decision Making Techniques

Photo by Brooke Cagle

hile some team leaders make decisions on their own, others prefer to open up the floor to get group members’ opinions. Making a decision as a group rather than independently can improve the quality of a decision. A team leader entrusted with a significant decision gets to benefit from numerous opinions that can provide valuable input. It’s important to remember that an effective group decision making technique will initially lay out all the information needed to make the decision. No one should ever make a decision without considering points of view that do not align with their opinions. No matter your project, you’ll likely find a solution by using one of the group decision making techniques below.What is a Group Decision Making Technique?

Group decision making technique is a team management approach to setting up and structuring group discussions and maximizing the quality of the collective work. Each technique is a set of rules that specifies the group interaction process, the use of time and resources. The ultimate goal of any decision making technique is to help every participant to put their ego aside and focus on generating right solutions together as a group.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Group Decision Making Techniques

Group decision making is not all about perks and benefits. Some decisions require leadership and expertise of a single person. So, let’s see what advantages and disadvantages of group decision making you may encounter.

Advantages

  • Enhances a culture of collaboration
  • Encourages diversity in opinions
  • Increases interest and engagement
  • Fosters democratic decision making
  • Promotes team spirit

Disadvantages

  • Decisions take longer to be made
  • Highly expensive due to having everyone’s attention
  • Lowered efficiency: some participants will not contribute, others will be too dominant, some of the input will be biased
  • No one takes the responsibility for the decision

10 Best Group Decision Making Techniques

1. Brainstorming

This decision making technique is the oldest in the book. Brainstorming has a loose structure compared to the other group decision making techniques below. It provides the opportunity for everyone to generate ideas and for them to feel comfortable coming forward with their opinions. A final decision is generally not made during a brainstorming session. Instead, the process initiates the decision making process. Often, this process is combined with another group decision-making technique to eventually arrive at an agreement.

2. Charette Procedure

The Charette Procedure is a play on brainstorming, but rather than gathering as a larger single group; people are organized into smaller groups. This ensures that everyone receives the same opportunity to speak up. Some people tend to hog brainstorming sessions by being the ones who talk the most frequently. Once all groups have had the chance to brainstorm, you later regroup, and the smaller groups present their ideas.

3. Nominal Group Technique

This group decision making technique is a structured process that involves several steps. Usually, the group will identify the problem being addressed and begin brainstorming, similar to the above two group decision making techniques. From there, the ideas are open for discussion, and then the group votes. The final decision with the most amount of votes is selected. This group decision making technique is useful because it comes from both individual and group thinking methods.

4. Delphi Technique

The Delphi technique leaves the decision making up to a panel of experts. Experts provide their opinions to questions over multiple rounds. After each round, their opinions are shared with the rest of the group. Following the group’s interpretation, the experts can modify their responses to each topic. The final result is meant to be an expert’s interpretation combined with the group’s findings. As the group members’ submitted opinions are anonymous, it limits discussions being dominated by few group members only, such as during brainstorming sessions. However, the questions and options collected make the Delphi technique a lengthy process.

5. Hartnett’s Consensus Oriented Decision Making (CODM) Model

This model involves facilitating several steps to generate a consensus among the group. The first steps involve framing the problem and having an open discussion to generate as many solutions as possible. From there, the group can identify underlying concerns regarding the decision, such as the impact on stakeholders. The group moves on to developing proposals, selecting a direction, and then developing the preferred solution to close the decision making process. Harnett’s model can be effective for reaching a decision but requires a lot of effort and time.

6. Bain’s RAPID Framework

RAPID stands for recommend, agree, perform, input and decide. The recommend step allows group members to make suggestions for actions or decisions, following which the group must agree upon one of the decisions. After the recommendations, the group will execute by performing. The group will provide their input on the decision’s impact, and the persons involved in the group become accountable for the whole execution process. This method is often used for more complex decisions.

7. Put It to a Vote

This method is much simpler than the acronym techniques above when simpler decisions must be made that involve a yes or no to get started. The information necessary to make the decision is presented, and then the group votes on their preferred option. This technique is one of the faster methods that could be transformed into an email and does not require a formally scheduled meeting.

8. The Stepladder Technique

The stepladder method encourages individuals to provide their opinion before being swayed by anyone else’s in a larger group setting. The process begins with two members of the group who meet privately to discuss their opinions, then at every step, a new group member is added. The approach encourages equal participation and to avoid the pitfall of groupthink.

9. Rank the Possibilities

Before getting together as a group, everyone submits their rankings on the preferred options relating to the decision. Everyone’s results are taken into account, and the team leader determines the average group rankings for each decision. Often, the members debate the top three rankings until they reach a decision as a group. Using this method can be helpful for decisions that entail numerous options.

10. Pros and Cons

Another one of the simpler group decision making techniques, this method works just as well for individual decisions as it does for group decisions. Groups can get together and discuss pros and cons. They can pick a decision after considering all of the advantages and disadvantages of each decision. Making pros and cons lists in a group setting might influence other teammates to reconsider their decision if they overlooked a disadvantage.

Best Practices of Group Decision Making

While some risks and drawbacks are inevitable, there are still ways to improve group decision making. Let’s see what are some of the best practices to apply during your next session:

  • Be clear about the decision to be made
  • Establish decision criteria
  • Break the group into subgroups from time to time
  • Respect participants’ time
  • Be sure all opinions are respected
  • Don’t allow one or two people to dominate all discussion

Ready to Make Better Group Decisions?

While the decision making process forms a helpful part of a project, it’s best not to get too caught up in the decision making process. Your time is valuable and better spent on getting more productive work done. As project management software, actiTIME can be useful for tracking how much time you and your team members spend on group decision making. You can record these hours and based on the results, and modify accordingly to ensure that you are making the most of your time. actiTIME helps you keep everything on track, including time allocated towards making decisions and beyond.

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