The 3 Best Techniques Group Decision Making
Group decision-making is a process of collective ideas generation by a group of people for decision making. The creative capability of a group is recognized when individuals from diverse sectors of the organization pull their ideas and judgment to create a satisfactory course of action. Following are the most used techniques for group decision making:
One of the important techniques for group decision-making is brainstorming. It is a technique of group decision-making in which individuals generate ideas in the form of free discussion and understanding. The purpose of this technique is to only generate ideas.
Brainstorming includes a rigorous set of rules. The basic rules are:
- Ridiculous or unreasonable ideas should be avoided
- Group members are encouraged to state any extreme or new idea
- Each idea presented should belong to the group and not a person
- No idea can be criticized. The purpose of this session is to generate but not to evaluate ideas.
Under brainstorming, a group is gathered, presented with the problem, and encourages to produce as many ideas and solutions as they can. All these ideas are recorded in a visible chart so that everybody can see every idea and try to improve upon them. Later on, these are analyzed and unsuitable solutions are discarded.
Brainstorming encourages free-wheeling and one idea sometimes generates another idea and unique solution. This technique is very effective when the problem is comparatively specific and can be simply defined. In this technique, the group never really concludes the problem-solving process.
#2 Delphi Technique
The second important technique from group decision-making techniques is the Delphi technique.
The Delphi technique involves the solicitation and comparison of anonymous judgment on the topic of interest through a set of sequential questionnaires. This process retains the advantages of having several judges while removing the biasing effect that might occur during face-to-face interaction.
In this technique of group decision making, a group of experts is gathered who are experts in their own field of knowledge and they are asked to give their opinions about the problems. The opinions of experts are collected by mail questionnaire. All these opinions are handled by a central coordinator, who consolidates the opinion. Again, this information is sent back to the experts for further analysis and opinions.
The Delphi technique involves the following sequential steps:
- Step 1 – The problem of the organization is identified and a set of questions is prepared relating to the problems so as to get the answer to the problems. These questions are consolidated in the form of a questionnaire.
- Step 2 – Experts in the concerned area are identified and delivered the questionnaire through the mail. The experts anonymously and independently answer the questions and send them back to the central coordinator.
- Step 3 – The central coordinator compiles and analyzes the result of the questionnaire on the basis of the response received. Again, a second questionnaire is developed and it is mailed to the participating experts.
- Step 4 – The experts are again asked to comment, suggest and answer the questions which may generate new ideas or solutions.
- Step 5 – The central coordinator again compiles and analyzes the questionnaire sent by the experts. And, if a consensus has not been reached, the coordinator develops the third questionnaire by focusing on the issues and unsolved areas of problems. This process will repeat until a consensus is had and a final report will be prepared.
The advantage of the Delphi technique is that group experts are totally independent and are not influenced by the opinions of others. Since experts are located in different locations, and physical presence is not necessary, and the process is economical. The disadvantage of this technique is that it is highly time-consuming and suitable for long-term complex issues only.
#3 Nominal Group Technique
The third important technique from group decision-making techniques is the nominal group technique.
The nominal group technique is a structured technique used to generate creative and innovative ideas. This is very similar to brainstorming, but it is taken as an effective technique for group decisions.
This technique is similar to traditional committee meetings, except members work independently, generate ideas for solving the problem in silence and in writing. This technique involves two-step process:
In the first stage, the coordinator of the group presents the problems to the members, each member generates ideas and writes them down silently and independently on a sheet of paper. The coordinator collects these written ideas and writes them on a visible chart. And, in the second step, written ideas are discussed one by one in a sequence. Each member is encouraged to comment to clarify the ideas.
After all ideas are discussed and clarified, they are evaluated on the basis of their comparative advantages and disadvantages. Each participating member is necessary to vote on each idea. The alternative having the highest rank is selected as the best alternative. This technique has gained recognition in the field of health, social service, and education, and in industries and government organizations.