How to Make Better Group Decisions

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How to Make Better Group Decisions

Amy Taylor

2020 has been a year that no one could have predicted, but as we approach the final few months with a renewed hope for 2021, we take a look at five quick strategies that businesses can use to make better group decisions for the year ahead.

 

Size Matters

Research suggests that groups of 7+ people can lead to biases when making group decisions. Bias usually occurs when members strive for unanimity, and as a result, it can often overpower their ability to review alternative options realistically. When making essential business decisions, it is best to keep the group number between 3 - 5 members.

 

Choosing a Team

Leaders first need to understand the nature of the decision they are asking the group to make in order to assemble a qualified team. Usually, a mixed group of individuals with opposing points of view can effectively counter biases and avoid collective group thinking. However, depending on the nature of the decision, context matters. For example, when it comes to health and safety on a construction site, a group of individuals with aligned thinking might be considered more appropriate.

 

Devils Advocate

Appoint a ‘strategic rebel’ to counteract group thinking mentality. Research shows that at least one person's right to challenge the groups' decision-making process can lead to significant improvements as well as an overall better quality outcome. If the group is larger in size, appointing two advocates will help ensure balance and not leave a single member feeling ostracised.

 

Independent Opinions

Group knowledge is only an advantage in decision making if used appropriately. To maximise the benefit, gather individual opinions before sitting down as a group for discussion. An effective way to do this is to collect information anonymously by way of a survey or shared document. The collective responses are then disseminated and discussed with the group, thus avoiding bias and ensuring everyone's participation.

 

Shared Responsibility

Ideally, all participants should feel accountable for the groups' decision-making process. A fundamental way to ensure this, it to assign different roles to the group based on their expertise. Not only does this allow every member of the group to participate fully but reinforces their commitment and involvement in the overall outcome.

 

At the end of the day, decisions are all about weighting up the opportunities and threats in business, but by incorporating the above steps into the decision planning process, there is a higher chance of a successful outcome for you and your team.

 

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