Group Decision Making
Prepared by: Leoniv A Crisostomo
Subject: PA 205-Managerial Decision Making
Professor: Dr. Elenita L. Tan
Group decision making (also known as collaborative
decision-making) can be defined as a type of
participatory process in which multiple individuals acting
collectively, analyze problems or situations, consider and
evaluate alternative courses of action, and select from
among the alternatives a solution or solutions.
Assembling employees into decision-making groups is
one method of tackling an issue or problem in the
workplace. The more minds working on a single problem
the more potential solutions are created. However, making
a final decision in a group may be difficult in certain
circumstances. Group decision-making techniques help
businesses turn ideas into action plans.
Brainstorming is a popular group decision-making
technique that is used for generating
In brainstorming, the leader of the session
presents a problem or question, clarifies the
rules of the session and then the group offers
ideas in a round-robin format. Ideas are written
down so that every member can see them.
Madison Avenue advertising executive Alex
Osborn developed the original approach to
brainstorming and published it in his 1953
book, "Applied Imagination.”
Osborn described brainstorming as "a
conference technique by which a group
attempts to find a solution for a specific
problem by amassing all the ideas
spontaneously by its members".
During brainstorming, group members are
encouraged to state their ideas, no matter how
wild they may seem, while an appointed group
member records all ideas for discussion.
Osborn claimed that brainstorming was more
effective than individuals working alone in
generating ideas, although more recent
research has questioned this conclusion.
Two Principles that contribute
to “Ideative Efficacy”
The four general rules of brainstorming
established with intention to:
• Reduce social inhibitions among group members,
• Stimulate idea generation
• Increase overall creativity of the group.
1. Focus on quantity: This rule is a means of enhancing divergent
production, aiming to facilitate problem solving through the maxim quantity
breeds quality. The assumption is that the greater the number of ideas
generated, the greater the chance of producing a radical and effective
2. Withhold criticism: In brainstorming, criticism of ideas generated
should be put 'on hold'. Instead, participants should focus on extending or
adding to ideas, reserving criticism for a later 'critical stage' of the
process. By suspending judgment, participants will feel free to generate
3. Welcome unusual ideas: To get a
good and long list of ideas, unusual
ideas are welcomed. They can be
generated by looking from new
perspectives and suspending
assumptions. These new ways of
thinking may provide better solutions.
4. Combine and improve ideas:
Good ideas may be combined to form
a single better good idea, as
suggested by the slogan "1+1=3". It
is believed to stimulate the building of
ideas by a process of association.
Brainstorming is a popular method of group interaction
in both educational and business settings. Although it
does not provide a measurable advantage in creative
output, conventional brainstorming is an enjoyable
exercise that is typically well received by participants.
When managed well, brainstorming can help you
generate radical solutions to problems. Brainstorming can
also encourage people to commit to solutions, because
they have provided input and played a role in developing
them. To be successful, the leader of a brainstorming
session must understand the problem and be able to
create a relaxed and creative air.
NOMINAL GROUP TECHNIQUE
This group decision-making technique is used to
identify problems or to evaluate alternatives.
This technique was originally developed by Andre Delbecq
and Andrew Van de Ven at the University of Wisconsin and
has been applied to adult education program planning by K.
This process is designed to ensure that each group
member has equal participation in making the
It involves the following steps:
STEP 1: Each group member writes down
individual ideas on the decision or
problem being discussed.
STEP 2: Each member presents individual ideas
orally. The ideas are usually written on a board
for all other members to see and refer to.
STEP 3: After all members present their ideas, the
entire group discussed these ideas simultaneously.
Discussion tends to be unstructured and
STEP 4: When discussion is completed, a secret ballot is
taken to allow members to support their favourite ideas
without fear. The idea receiving the most votes is adopted
Voting is anonymous
There are opportunities for equal participation
of group members
Distractions (communication "noise") inherent
in other group methods are minimized
Prevents the domination of discussion by a
single person, encourages the more passive group
members to participate
Results in a set of prioritized solutions or
Opinions may not converge in the
Cross-fertilization of ideas may be
The process may appear to be too
When to Use Nominal Group Technique
When some group members are much more vocal than others.
When some group members think better in silence.
When there is concern about some members not participating.
When the group does not easily generate quantities of ideas.
When all or some group members are new to the team.
When the issue is controversial or there is heated conflict.
Nominal Group Technique Considerations
Discussion should be equally balanced among all ideas.
The facilitator should not allow discussion to turn into
argument. The primary purpose of the discussion is
clarification. It is not to resolve differences of opinion.
Keep all ideas visible. When ideas overflow to additional
flipchart pages, post previous pages around the room so all
ideas are still visible to everyone.
The Delphi method was originally developed in the
early 1950s at the RAND Corporation by Olaf Helmer
and Norman Dalkey to systematically solicit the view of
experts related to national defense and later in
controversial sociopolitical areas of discourse
It is a structured variant of the traditional expert polls
and is usually used in forecasting.
The Delphi technique involves circulating
questionnaires on a specific problem among group
members, sharing the questionnaire results with them,
and then continuing to recirculate and refine individual
responses until a consensus regarding the problem is
The administrators of the Delphi method make a
decision based on the results of the rounds.
The Delphi method helps the group reach consensus
without the influence of strong members of the group
and the tendency to rush for a decision at the end of a
In contrast to the nominal group technique or
brainstorming, the Delphi technique does not
have group members meet face to face.
The success of this process depends upon the member's
expertise and communication skill.
Each response requires adequate time for reflection and
The formal steps followed in the
Delphi Technique are:
STEP 1: A problem is identified.
STEP 2: Group members are asked to offer solutions to
the problem by providing anonymous responses to a
carefully designed questionnaires.
STEP 3: Responses of all group members are
compiled and sent out to all group members.
STEP 4: Individual group members are asked to generate a
new individual solution to the problem after they have studied
the individual responses of all other group members.
STEP 5: Step 3 and 4 are repeated until a consensus
problem solutions is reached.
The major merits of the Delphi process are:
Elimination of interpersonal problems.
Efficient use of expert's time.
Diversity of ideals.
Accuracy of solutions and predictions.
The key characteristics of the Delphi method:
Anonymity of the participants. Usually all participants remain
anonymous. Their identity is not revealed, even after the completion
of the final report. This prevents the authority, personality, or
reputation of some participants from dominating others in the
process. Arguably, it also frees participants (to some extent) from
their personal biases, minimizes the "bandwagon effect" or "halo
effect", allows free expression of opinions, encourages open critique,
and facilitates admission of errors when revising earlier judgments.
Structuring of information flow. The initial
contributions from the experts are collected in the
form of answers to questionnaires and their
comments to these answers. The panel director
controls the interactions among the participants by
processing the information and filtering out
irrelevant content. This avoids the negative effects
of face-to-face panel discussions and solves the
usual problems of group dynamics.
Regular feedback Participants comment on their own
forecasts, the responses of others and on the progress of the panel as
a whole. At any moment they can revise their earlier statements.
While in regular group meetings participants tend to stick to
previously stated opinions and often conform too much to the group
leader; the Delphi method prevents it.
Role of the facilitator. The person coordinating the Delphi
method is usually known as a facilitator or Leader, and facilitates the
responses of their panel of experts, who are selected for a reason,
usually that they hold knowledge on an opinion or view. The
facilitator sends out questionnaires, surveys etc. and if the panel of
experts accept, they follow instructions and present their views.
Responses are collected and analyzed, then common and conflicting
viewpoints are identified. If consensus is not reached, the process
continues through thesis and antithesis, to gradually work towards
synthesis, and building consensus.
The Stepladder Technique is a simple tool that
manages how members enter the decision-making group.
Developed by Steven Rogelberg, Janet Barnes-Farrell and
Charles Lowe in 1992, it encourages all members to contribute on
an individual level BEFORE being influenced by anyone else. This
results in a wider variety of ideas, it prevents people from "hiding"
within the group, and it helps people avoid being "stepped on" or
overpowered by stronger, louder group members.
The Stepladder Technique is similar to the Delphi Method,
another tool that's often used in groups to prevent Groupthink and
to encourage participation.
While both tools have the same objective, they differ in a few key
In the Delphi Method, an objective facilitator or leader manages
the group. In the Stepladder Technique, all members are equal.
The Delphi Method keeps members anonymous. The facilitator
manages the flow of information, and members may have no idea
who else is in the group. The Stepladder Technique involves face-to-face
meetings, so everyone knows who the other members are.
The Delphi Method is a lengthy process, while the Stepladder
Technique is much quicker.
The Delphi Method is often used for major decisions that need
input from a large number of people. The Stepladder Technique
works best with smaller groups that make a wide range of decisions.
The devil's advocacy is a decision-making
technique where the group is allowed to
become the critic in the proposed decision.
This technique helps prevent groupthink and
increases the chance of a high-quality
Three Types of Devil's Advocacy
Three types of devil's advocacy have been discussed in the business and
public administration literatures.
1. The first is the basic devil's advocate approach in which a person within a
decision-making group is appointed to critique a preferred plan or option.
This person attempts to point out weaknesses in the assumptions underlying
the plan, its internal inconsistencies, and problems which may lead to failure
2. A variant of this basic devil's advocate approach is called
multiple advocacy. This technique involves the use of several
devil's advocates drawn from the organization's internal or
external critics. Each group critical of a preferred option or plan
can be represented by their own devil's advocate.
Alexander George, in his book Presidential Decision-Making,
claims that multiple advocacy should be superior to the use of
devil‘s advocates because it includes more advocates and more
In the multiple advocacy system, representatives of minority
opinions and unpopular views present these to decision-makers in
order to encourage them to question the assumptions
underlying the prevailing or favored policy.
3. Mason and Mitroff (1981) have summarized research on
another variant of devil's advocacy. They call this technique
dialectical inquiry and in its elaborated form, Strategic
Dialectical inquiry is a group decision-making technique
that focuses on ensuring full consideration of alternatives.
Essentially, it involves dividing the group into opposing
sides, which debate the advantages and disadvantages of
proposed solutions or decisions.
The approach can be traced back to the dialectic school
of philosophy in ancient Greece. Plato and his followers
attempted to synthesize truths by exploring opposite
positions, called thesis and antithesis.
Although it stimulates programmed conflict, it is a
constructive approach, because it elicits the benefits and
limitations of opposing sets of ideas.
Organizations that use dialectical inquiry create teams of
decision makers. Each team is instructed to generate and
evaluate alternative courses of action and then recommend the
best one. Then after hearing each team’s alternative courses of
action, the team’s and the organization’s top managers meet
together and select the best parts of each plan and synthesize a
final plan that provides the best opportunity for success.
Fish-bowling is a variation of the brainstorming but is more
structured and is to the point.
The decision making group of experts is seated around in a circle
with a single chair in the centre of the circle. One member of the group is
invited to sit in the centre chair and gives his views about the problem
and his proposition of solution in discussion The other group members
can ask him questions but no cross talk is allowed. Once the member
finishes and his viewpoint is fully understood, he leaves the center and
joins the group in the circle.
Exchange between the center chair and the group members
continues until the chair is vacated. All exchanges must be between the
center and the group and no two group members are allowed to talk
This technique results in each member favoring a particular course of
action, since all members are acting upon the same database and also since
each idea offered by the central members is thoroughly questioned and
After all the experts have expressed their views, the entire group
discusses the various alternatives suggested and pick the one with consensus
WHEN TO USE THE FISHBOWL TECHNIQUE
This technique is based on the premise that you can identify two or
more groups of people who hold distinctly different views on an issue that
is important to your company.
This technique is applicable only in certain situations, but is
an excellent method when such a situation exists. The type of
problem should result into a yes-no solution.
There are two groups, one favoring ‘yes’ and other favoring
‘no’. The first group will list all the ‘pros’ of the problem solution
and the second group will list all the ‘cons’.
These two groups meet and discuss their findings and their
reasons. After an exhaustive discussions, the groups switch sides
and try to find weaknesses in their own original viewpoints.
This interchange of ideas and tolerance and understanding of
opposing viewpoints results in mutual acceptance of facts as they
exist so that a solution can be built around these facts and
opinions relating to these facts and thus a final decision is reached
In business, decisions are an everyday occurrence. The challenge
we all face is when to make decisions based on a group input as
opposed to making a decision on individual input. There are advantages
and disadvantages to both concepts, and truth be told, neither is really
right or wrong.
You see, if we make a decision as a group, we are getting
a consensus, which is a cohesive, agreeable decision made by more than
one person. This consensus takes into account the different viewpoints,
backgrounds and perspectives of the individuals that made the decision.
Truly, it is a team decision and one that can bring individuals in an
organization together to fix a common problem.