Definition of a group
A group can be defined as a collection of people agreeing to work jointly with the aim of achieving their mutually set objectives. A group will thus constitute members who usually share habitual contacts and interactions, feeling of comradeship and reciprocal influence. Every member thus works tirelessly and in cooperation with other members to arrive at their set goals. Ideally, a group is a team or collection of individuals joined together by a need to achieve common goals or objectives. A group can however be formed by two or more individuals. By the virtual of us coming together with an objective of solving the decision-making problem in the organization as directed by the CEO, we will have grouped ourselves into units geared toward solving the problem as a team rather than as individuals.
Individual versus Group Decision Making
Although the process of decision-making may be the same both in individual and groups decision-making, the two processes differ in some way. While an individual will make a decision that is solely based on his intuitive sense,
group decision making involves wide consultations, lengthy discussions, and clear communication of goals to all members, as well as effective management of group diversity failure of which the whole process may be a failure (Daryl, 2006:13). Group decision making or rather what is referred to as Collaborative decision making is an approach to effective decision making where managers and leaders involve virtually all the members of the organization in the decision-making process (Mitchell, 2004: 9). This ensures that the process is data-based, incorporates the feelings and expectations of all the parties to the process, makes maximum use of the creative skills and resources that are presented by the ranging diversity among the group members, and helps build and maintain healthy relations among the members within and without the organization (Jasmin, 2002:14, Mitchell, 2004:9).
Supporters of group decision making argue that, as a pedestal to effective decision making, it helps maintain sound relations among the members even if a decision and its outcomes are deemed as inappropriate thus enhancing an environment for collective ownership of the decision as well as providing a point of learning and moving on.
Single decisions by top managers without involving others in the process may lead to the latter sabotaging it irrespective of whether the decision is good for the organization or not (Mitchell, 2004:17). In addition, group/ collaborative decision making is more time-consuming than individual group making since each and every member’s idea has to be taken into account, discussions undertaken and consensus reached, a process that may take quite some time depending on the decision that is to be made. In addition, although rush decisions or what Steve (2006:2) refers to as snap decisions made solely by individuals especially top executives are at times advocated for as necessitated by emergency, it is not usually the best since it in most cases leads to the decision-maker making the wrong decision with dire consequences for the organization later on.
Decision Making Concepts Methodologies and Theories
Management and decision-making can not be separated. In fact, they must coexist, with the success and effectiveness of each largely dependent on the other. In reality, wrong or ineffective decision-making by a manager will certainly mean that the latter flops in his endeavors (Mitchell, 2004:12). According to a survey report published in Jasmin (2002: 7), it is confirmed that irrespective of the importance that effective decision making holds in organizations, those responsible for organizational decisions making has not yet achieved the level of decision-making efficiency that matches today’s business decision-making requirements (Steve, 2006:2
However, various theories, methodologies, and concepts have been developed and continue to be developed to hone decision-makers with adequate skills that will certainly take decision-making to a higher level. According to Steve (2006:2), rational decision-making has since time immemorial been relied upon by the decision-maker to make smart decisions. The latter states that the logical decision-making process is an activity that involves a logical sequence of activities. According to Mitchell (2004:13), the process starts with the physical identification of organizational objectives and ends with actual identification and choice of the most ideal course of action for the organization a fact that Steve (2006: 3) agrees with.
Example of such concepts to decision making includes, the three Models Decision Making Theory, The Rational Decision Making Models, Descriptive Decision Making Models and a Multiple Decision Making Theories like the famous Certainty Theory, the Prospect Theory, Regret Theory, Multi-Attribute Choice among others. Under the first model in the three models of decision making, the decision-making process is preceded by gathering of perfect or rather actual information that perfectly guides the choice of the course of action or the decision(Daryl, 2006:15). Model two on the other hand points out that although the decision-maker has no perfect and adequate information on the natural state he has adequate external information that can help him or her accurately forecast the facts of the organization before making a decision. Under the third model, the decision-maker makes the decision without either the facts or any information to predict the facts which have high chances of making wrong or inappropriate decisions (Daryl, 2006:15). Under the prospect theory, on the other hand, the decisions are made based on the available alternatives. The certainty theory is an approach to decision making where the decision-maker identifies the alternative that avoids the consequence of wrong decision making. The multi-attribute choice theory presents a circumstance where the decision-maker is presented with alternatives (with both the negatives and positives) hence he becomes torn between the choices (Daryl, 2006:15).
According to Jasmin (2002:21) group-based, decision making has been gaining popularity with time due to the belief in a documented proof that the work of a group in decision making is much better in terms of its outcome than it could be if the process was undertaken by a solitary individual a fact that is greatly attributed to the diversity in perspectives that are present in a group. Such diversity, therefore, presents the group with a comprehensive visualization of the issues that are contained in their agenda; including the opportunities and threats as well as a wide range of interpretation of information. It thus enables the group to come up with a well-deliberated course of action and solutions that incorporates varied views and ideas presented in the group’s diversity (Jasmin, 2002:17).
According to the latter, success in group decision making will depend on the ability of the group leader (in this case the top management) to effectively manage the group diversity, avoid group polarization, prejudices and channel the efforts of each member towards the achievement of the goals set by the decision making process. Effective decision-making also called for efficacy in communication especially on the part of the leader or manager. Some organizational decisions may require the affirmative decisions of the top executives to take more time and care in their implementation (Mitchell, 2004:17). However, it is important that virtually all the members participate in the process.
According to Steve (2006:7) however, the effectiveness of the process is measured by its ability to adequately achieve the preset goals to be met by the decisions. As a result, effective communication skills on the part of the manager will determine the success of the collaborative decision-making processes since it called for clear communication of goals, involving all the parties in collaborative dialogues and discussions, maintain good relations throughout the process, and guide the decision-makers till a final decision is made as well as effective management of groups diversity.
- The chief executive officer should effectively communicate the goals and objectives of the organization based on the overall mission and vision of the organization so as to make group decision-making in the organization.
- The respective groups should be involved in making all the decisions in the organization based on the communication and close relationship with the top management so as to build a culture of collaborative decision making thus ending the inappropriate individualized decision making in the organization.
- Each group should be allowed to appoint its own leadership and then given all the autonomy to act as a decentralized decision-making unit. This will not only make maximum use of diverse talents and ideas present in the organization but will perhaps act as a motivation strategy to the decision-makers.
Daryl R. (2006) Managing the Speed of Change: Group Decision Making. Harvard Business School Vol. 3 No2
Jasmin, E. (2002). Effective Communication and Decision-making in Diverse Groups. P1-23.
Mitchell, K. (2004). Collaborative Decision-Making: A Tool for Effective Leadership Karp Consulting Group, Inc. OD Network Annual Conference.
Steve, B. (2006). The Secrets of Effective Decision inc. the journal of business management Vol. 12 No. 1