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Brainstorming Decision-Making Technique
The choice of one of the three major techniques of group decision making requires a thorough analysis of the business context to discern the factors that assist or hinder the process of consensus achievement.
The first scenario suggests rather a typical case of a company losing its competitive edge owing to some unknown reasons that are not mentioned. What is known is that the leaders lack originality and tend to stick to traditional approaches to management. However, the members of a decision-making group, to which I am supposed to belong, are extroverts – it means that they are likely to prefer an open discussion of the problem to anonymous voting. We are not pressed for time; yet, the sales dropping tendency seems rather disturbing, necessitating deliberate and effective solutions.
Taking all these factors into considerations allows concluding that the brainstorming technique would be applicable in the given case. This technique presupposes generating multiple options to solve the problem in the discussion (Moshal, 2009). Since all the managers involved are prone to conventional thinking, brainstorming would help encourage freewheeling. The technique welcomes all kind of ideas, no matter how weird or wild they may seem; therefore, the managers would be able to step aside from their adherence to the group opinion and show their creative thinking (taking into account that criticism is not allowed) (Moshal, 2009).
The brainstorming approach to decision-making is often criticized because of the negative effect of authority on the discussion’s outcome. Still, in the situation at hand, we deal with the top management team, which means that the hierarchical position’s prejudice is unlikely. One more disadvantage would be that brainstorming does not give a ready-made solution to the problem but aims to generate alternatives (Bolland & Fletcher, 2012). However, when it concerns competitive advantage, more than one course of action is possible, which means that there is no universal way out. Thus, brainstorming will give rise to creativity in the company and lead to the gradual development of a well-grounded and non-conventional strategy.
Nominal Group Decision-Making Technique
The second case puts me in the company that has to encounter cost overruns requiring urgent measures. Our team of top managers includes introverts and extroverts, which makes group discussions rather one-sided as the former often suppress the latter. That is one reason to doubt that brainstorming activities will be of any use in this case. Moreover, the company needs a ready-made solution rather than a list of alternatives. The problem is narrow and particular; thus, developing a comprehensive strategy is not needed in this case.
The above-cited arguments make me believe that the nominal group technique will be much more applicable. The decision-making process participants form a group in name only, which gives way to independent thinking. Each member is given a chance to write down his/her ideas later added to the chart, discussed, and evaluated (Sims, 2002). Therefore, the first advantage of this approach in the given case is that introverts will not have to express their ideas orally – it will give them a chance to feel more confident in their creativity without being afraid of the lack of eloquence. Another advantage is that each participant of the discussion ranks the options privately, which excludes the pressure arising from the necessity to conform to others’ ideas. The decision-making group members are rather independent of each other no matter in what relations they are in the company – private balloting allows them to show their preferences freely (Sims, 2002). Moreover, we have to deal with a situation that requires quick actions. The nominal group technique is the only one that makes it possible to arrive at a decision within several hours and prevent the aggravation of the critical situation.
Delphi Decision-Making Technique
In the third scenario, I am a part of an IT team consisting of highly skilled and knowledgeable specialists. The situation here is not critical: the company must agree on a new software system that would replace the outdated one. Thus, the issue is not pressing and does not call for immediate action. However, the problem is that all the specialists who are supposed to reach a consensus on the best available options work in the company’s overseas divisions. This implies that it would be very expensive to organize face-to-face meetings. The situation excludes the possibility of implementing the brainstorming or nominal group techniques.
In this case, the perfect solution would be to resort to the Delphi technique as it makes it possible to collect ideas from professionals who are physically dispersed. Later, their opinions are evaluated and often organized into a combined decision (Bolland & Fletcher, 2012). This approach is rather time-consuming and, according to various estimates, takes more than 44 days to be fully put into practice (Sims, 2002). Since our management group has three months to complete the task, I would concentrate on the outcome’s quality rather than on costs and promptness. The process begins with presenting the problems to the team of experts in the form of a letter. After each participant suggests an option that seems the most reasonable to him/her, the ideas are shared in the second series of emails. The process continues until the compromise is reached. Since each expert will have time to evaluate other professionals’ opinions and modulate his/her solution in accordance, chances of premature judgment are reduced to a minimum. Also, logistical difficulties of face-to-face meetings can be avoided, making the Delphi technique even more efficient (Sims, 2002).
Discussion of the Techniques
As it is evident from the cases discussed above, each technique is favorable in a particular situation while being ineffective in another. That is why it is difficult indeed to claim which one is the most useful. However, I believe that the nominal group technique can be referred to as the most universal.
The reason for this choice that this technique relies upon the organizational context that seems true-to-life (Saaty & Peniwati, 2013):
- in any company some group members are more vocal and sociable than others;
- some people prefer thinking independently in silence before voicing their opinion;
- the situation in which some participants of the decision-making process are unwilling to take part is not uncommon;
- new members of the team may be put under pressure;
- critical situations are numerous, and there is often very little time for consideration.
As compared to the other two approaches, the nominal group technique fosters more equal and independent participation, which gives a greater number of unique ideas. Furthermore, it increases participation and gives participants a feeling of accomplishment, contributing to job satisfaction (Saaty & Peniwati, 2013).
Bolland, E., & Fletcher, F. (2012). Solutions: Business problem solving. London, UK: Gower Publishing Ltd.
Moshal, B. S. (2009). Principles of management. New Delhi, India: Ane Books Pvt Ltd.
Saaty, T. L., & Peniwati, K. (2013). Group decision making: Drawing out and reconciling differences. Pittsburgh, PA: RWS publications.
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Sims, R. R. (2002). Managing organizational behavior. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.