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We have applied modern research about decision quality with material found in Vroom and Yetton’s robust volume, “Leadership and Decision-Making”. Here they identify eight styles of group decision-making.

Modern research has well proven that groups typically make higher quality decisions than the smartest person in the group (ie, individuals).  Therefore, it is relatively easy to picture the relationship as shown in the following array of potential styles of group decision making:

Influence Upon Styles of Group Decision Making

Influence Upon Styles of Group Decision Making

Next understand the eight styles and then watch what happens when we array them against a new chart, with the “X-Scale” representing how much time is invested by group members and the “Y-Scale” representing the tendency from authoritative decision-making to completely collaborative decision-making.

First the eight styles:

  • Ai        Autocratic or directive style:  The leader defines the problem, diagnoses the problem, generates potential solutions, evaluates the options, and selects among the best options.
  • Agi     Autocratic with group input:  The leader defines the problem and conducts some diagnosis. They look to the group for the cause and potential solutions, and then unilaterally selects among the best options.
  • Arf     Autocratic with group review and feedback:  The leader defines the problem, diagnoses probable causes, and select a solution from among the best options. The leader presents their plan to the group for understanding, review, feedback, and frequently to transfer ownership.
  • Ci        Individual consultative style:  The leader defines the problem and shares with individual members of the group. The leader solicit ideas around probable causes and potential solutions. After obtaining information, the leader selects among the best options.
  • Gc      Group consultative style:  Similar to the Ci described above except the sharing occurs with the group as a whole, rather than as segmented individuals.
  • Gd      Group decision style:  Leader shares the problem with the entire group. The group diagnoses probable causes, generates options, evaluates against criteria, and selects among the best options.
  • Ps       Participative:  The group as a whole identifies and agrees on the problem. They continue to diagnose probable causes, generate options, evaluate against criteria, and select among the best options. The role of the leader serves as a true facilitator.
  • Lt       Leaderless team:  The group has no formal leader, but assembles. Often a leader emerges, and may bias the problem or solution. However, the group still The group diagnoses probable causes, generates options, evaluates against criteria, and selects among the best options.
Styles of Group Decision Making

Actual: Styles of Group Decision Making Impact on Decision Quality

Implications

Having arrayed them in the chart above, it becomes apparent, that critical decisions demand more group time while simple and tactical decisions should be managed by individuals and not macro-managed by groups or supervisors. The next time you are faced with a critical decision, demand the time to take a facilitated group approach, and you will be amazed at what a solid group of subject matter experts can generate when properly facilitated as defined by the Ps style above.

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Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz, CSM, PSPO, CSPF, is the Managing Director of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Facilitation Best Practices blog features over 300 articles on facilitation skills and tools aimed at helping others lead faster, more productive meetings and workshops that yield higher quality decisions. His clients include Agilists, Scrum teams, program and project managers, senior officers, and the business analyst community among numerous private and public companies and global corporations. As an undergraduate of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and MBA graduate from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on process improvement and product development. He continually aspires to make it easier for others to succeed.

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