Group decision making techniques provide cross-functional teams the framework to foster constructive discussions regarding important business decisions. Learn about how you can use group decision making frameworks to make decisions quickly.
Making a decision for a group of people can be a major undertaking. Things get even more complicated when you’re making crucial business decisions and have to consider finances, investor needs, and the goals of different cross-functional teams. Establishing a decision-making framework ahead of time helps you to reduce external distractions and follow a predetermined series of steps to make the most logical decision as a group. Using group decision making frameworks can help cross-functional teams make the right decisions, quickly.
A group decision making technique is a framework that you can use to help a group with several different decision makers.These frameworks can be especially helpful when you’re working with decision makers across teams and departments because it helps provide decision makers with the different perspectives from cross-functional teams. The best kind of group decision making techniques takes the opinion of everyone in the group into consideration. Using the right group decision making technique for the right project can help save your team time, increase efficiency, and encourage collaboration.
Making good group decisions is important, especially when working with cross-functional teams. To ensure that you include everyone’s opinions, use these tips:
Clarify the goal and category of the decision. Making a group decision can be challenging if you’re working cross-functionally. This is because each team has their own individual goal and needs for a final decision. It’s also important to consider the category of the decision. Type one decisions are decisions that are extremely challenging to reverse. Type two decisions are reversible, easily fixed and reversed if the outcome doesn’t quite reflect what your team expected. Make sure it’s clear to everyone on the team how permanent this decision is.
Keep the decision making group small, but diverse. While there may be a lot of people affected by your decision, keeping your decision making group small can help maintain agility. It’s important to create a diverse group of people because it encourages discussion from team members with different viewpoints. When considering who to choose, try to incorporate members from the teams that will be most impacted by the decision. Make sure team leaders receive input from the team members they manage, so the decision isn’t made in an executive silo.
Use a RACI chart. Before even making a decision, using a RACI chart ensures that everybody on the decision making group understands their role and responsibilities within this specific decision making process.
Foster a safe discussion space. Decision making requires a lot of brainstorming, discussion, and sharing of ideas. Fostering a safe space is an important part of establishing a psychologically safe workplace for your employees. The more your team is willing to share ideas, the more likely it is your team will make great decisions for your company.
Communicate the final decision clearly. Once the decision is made, it should be communicated to those who are impacted in an efficient manner. This is a good opportunity to develop a communication plan to ensure that everyone gets the information they need.
Making a decision within a group of people is challenging when there’s no structure involved. This is especially true when business leaders have to make decisions across different departments who all have their own goals to consider. Here are six different decision making processes that you can use to help groups find the right decision for them.
Basic brainstorming is one of the easiest ways to get ideas flowing within a group of people. During this time, everyone comes up with different possible end decisions and shares their ideas with the team, but no ideas are turned down until later. While this type of decision making strategy is great for coming up with potential ideas, it’s rarely used to make a final decision.
Good for: Generating new ideas, getting input from the entire group
A decision tree analysis is a type of chart that maps out how one decision can result in many different outcomes. Think of this strategy like the butterfly effect—your team is looking at many different potential outcomes based on one single decision. This technique works really well when you’re trying to look for a solution to a long-term issue. It works especially well for cross-functional teams, because then everyone can visualize how it affects different parts of the business. A decision tree can help your team identify potential risks and problems with other solutions, which can help save time and money in the long run.
Good for: Identifying how a single decision can affect different teams or departments
Named after the Oracle of Delphi, this framework assigns one person in the group as a key decision maker. The team gathers ideas from a general brainstorm, and then presents them to the group leader to eliminate some options. Once the leader narrows down choices, the decision goes back to the team for more discussion so they can also eliminate some options. This goes back and forth between the group leader and the rest of the team until you reach a final decision. This technique works well for teams that have a dedicated project manager, like Agile or Scrum teams.
Good for: Narrowing down a large group of choices down to one, teams that have a dedicated project manager
A dialectical inquiry requires two options that your team is deciding between. From there, your team splits up into two teams: one to debate the pros and one to debate the cons of each decision. This strategy is good if your team is torn between two different options. This gives you the option to thoroughly discuss the opportunities and weaknesses of each alternative.
Good for: Making a final decision between two choices
If you’re trying to make a final group decision on a sensitive topic, or want to provide your team with a little bit more anonymity to the decision, the nominal group technique is a good option. Each group member provides options or feedback in a written or digital manner, explaining their reasoning for why they believe it’s the best option. After hearing the arguments and discussions of all of the choices, the team then ranks all of the different options from best to worst. The option that’s ranked number one then becomes the final decision.
Good for: Giving more anonymity to group members
This process starts with traditional brainstorming strategies and then pools categorically similar ideas together. This helps the team members break down each potential solution by category, instead of as different individual options. For example, if your team is considering implementing work management software, you may segment different options based on the use case of each team. This outlines different options by needs or use case. From there, you can eliminate the options that don’t fit into the required categories. Consensus mapping is best used for complex, enterprise-level issues because it takes into account different categories or needs of a specific issue.
Good for: Complex issues or enterprise-level decision making
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