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Wednesday, May 24, 2017


You are perhaps aware that in recent times most of the decisions in any large organisation are usually taken by a group of people (e.g., Board of Directors, Committees, Task-force, etc.) rather than by a single individual manager, however, brilliant, bright or powerful the manager may be. Perhaps from your own experience, you are also aware of some of the obvious advantages and disadvantages of group decision making like the one given below:

Looking at this kind of a balance-sheet on group decision making, you may well ask whether, on the whole, groups are superior to individuals as far as the decision  making effectiveness is concerned. It is not possible to give a categorical answer without reference to the nature of the people, the nature of the group and the context in which the group is making a decision. However, what we know about the impact of the groups in decision making process has been summarised by Harrison (1975) in the following way:



In the models of decisionmaking, you must have observed that any systematic approach to decision making starts with a proper definition of the problem. You will often experience that a problem well defined is a problem half-solved because the proper definition helped you to search at relevant place for promising alternatives. You would also agree that a "fair" approach to decision-making demands that parameters (for judging alternatives which are sometimes referred to as "criteria", "level of aspiration", "decision rules", etc.) should be explicitly developed before the alternatives are generated and not after. This imperative minimises the chances of unnecessary compromise which is the hall-mark of a low-quality decision. However, once you have developed the criteria, keep them aside and forget about them at the time of generation of the alternatives. This dissociation of criteria from the alternative-generation phase will improve your chance of coming up with a reasonably sufficient number of alternatives. You will understand the importance of generating a "reasonable" number of alternatives by the simple realisation that the quality of a decision can be no better than the quality of the alternatives that you identify.

Identification of Alternatives

Generation of a reasonable number of good alternatives is usually no problem. Occasionally, however, developing a variety of good alternatives can be a complex matter requiring creativity, thought, and study. Three means for generating alternatives are particularly well-known. These are brainstorming, synectics, and nominal grouping.

Brainstorming: Developed by Alex F. Osborn, brainstorming is the oldest and best known technique for stimulating creative thinking. It involves the use of a group whose members is presented with a problem and is asked to develop as many potential solutions as possible. Members of the group may all be employees of the same firm or outside experts in a particular field. Brainstorming is based on the premise that when people interact in a free and uninhibited atmosphere they will, generates creative ideas. That is, as one person generates an idea it serves to stimulate the thinking of others. This interchange of ideas is supposedly contagious and creates an atmosphere of free discussion and spontaneous thinking. The objective is to produce as many ideas as possible in keeping with the belief that the larger the number of ideas produced, the greater the probability of identifying an acceptable solution.

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