The Five-step Approach and Groupthink
How difficult it is to make a decision? It actually can vary from person to person. According to the TV documentary from BBC, “How to make better decision” people actually do not make very good decision. Base on the studies shown in the documentary, the studies suggest that there are too many unrealized elements that could actually in fact is affecting our decision-making abilities. Therefore, most of the time people do not make rational decision even though we thought that we have. The documentary did provide three key suggestions that will help us to make a better decision. Wait! Before I go on with the suggestions, it has come to me that although it is a nice insightful TV program, the documentary talks about most personal decision-making problems and issues yet not about group or organization. Then I asked myself “does this apply to organization as well?” Lucky I think it does. Without too much work, I find a video from Harvard Business Review channel titled “How Company Can Make Better Decisions.” What the two videos share in common is that both videos suggest that either individual or organization should have some kind a systematic process to ensure rational or effective decision-making. The second video is an interview with Marcia Blenko, who is the leader of Bain & Company’s Global Organization Practice, and she shares a five steps approach to decision-making.
- Understand how well is your organization’s current decision-making ability (compare with others)
- Identify the critical decision (not necessary the major decision, it can be accumulated daily process decision)
- Setup the critical decision and executing the decision
- The decision should be clearly communicated and supported by the whole organization
- Making sure the decision is following through
Blenko also talk about some of the measurements so that a company can know how to rate its decision-making ability because sometime is not so obvious to realize how well the decision is performing after it is being executed. Furthermore, Blenko also express that there are many decision-making barriers, such as unclear, leadership style, information distribution and so on. I find this expect that although the barriers are different but organization does suffer from decision-making flaws just as individual.
After some research, one of the barriers or mistake of group decision-making that gets me interested is called Groupthink. Groupthink is a phenomenon that one or few members in a group have put uniformity and harmony above what one’s common sense or thinking what the right decision should be; therefore, there is no alternative or contingency plan. In other word, when Groupthink happened, individual will give up one’s point of view or what he or she stand on a particular decision if the majority of the group had come to an unanimously decision even the individual thinks differently. Groupthink generally happens in two types of group environments, and the environments are usually associated with different organization personalities. The first type is voluntary, in a group that has value group harmony is more important than express what one thinks Groupthink will automatic happened, and this usually associated with non-confrontational or conflict-avoiding organization personality. The second type is pressured Groupthink. Under this organization personality the Groupthink happened most likely with a strong leadership with a high requirement of compliance so the group member feel pressured to disagree with the majority. According to the website, MindTools Groupthink can lead to possible sever disaster if the decision is involving safety issue. For more detail on how to avoid Groupthink please check out the website the link is below. The website also provides a couple of tools in detail. I personally find the tool “Nominal Group Technique” very helpful.
- Tucker, L (Producer). (2008, February 12). How to make better decisions [Television Documentary]. Horizon (BBC TV series). London, England, United Kingdom: BBC
- How Companies Can Make Better Decisions, Faster (Video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbxpg6D4Hk8
- Avoiding Groupthink – MindTools website: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_82.htm
- Nominal Group Technique: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTED_98.htm
- GROUPTHINK – Reference for Business: http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/small/Eq-Inc/Groupthink.html