Making decisions as a group is a common practice in the workplace, but it can be challenging and influenced by many factors such as biases, power plays, and groupthink. Therefore, it is important for teams to recognize the difficulties of making decisions in a group and implement new strategies for more effective decision-making. Here are seven key techniques for better group decisions:
- Keep your team small: Research shows that groups of more than seven members are generally more susceptible to common biases. Keeping your review team between three to five people can help eliminate some of those biases while still bringing in multiple perspectives.
- Appoint a devil’s advocate: To counteract groupthink, appoint a person tasked with advertising the group’s consensus and challenging decisions that are agreed upon too quickly. Research shows that this can lead to significant improvements in the quality of decisions made.
- Don’t depend solely on experts: Experts can contribute to stronger decisions, but be wary of over-relying on them as that can lead to bias. Invite experts to provide their input as informed perspectives rather than to sway decisions or dominate the narrative.
- Try brainwriting instead of brainstorming: Brainwriting allows quieter team members to contribute their ideas by writing them down, rather than being shouted down by more extroverted members. This is especially helpful for larger groups or for those without an experienced moderator.
- Polling: For small, less impactful decisions, a simple poll can provide a quick answer. Ask for a show of hands to gauge how group members feel about a particular option.
- Use Bain’s RAPID framework: This framework helps to ensure that each area of a decision-making process has someone responsible for it before moving on to the next. It’s suitable for large-scale decisions that may affect several areas of a business or institution.
- Decision by consensus: This is the most democratic and fair way to reach an outcome. It involves all group members genuinely agreeing on the final decision and advocating for its success. If members can “agree to disagree and commit,” teams can make great strides.
By implementing these seven techniques, teams can make more effective decisions that take into account a variety of perspectives and reduce biases and groupthink.
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