March 12, 2011

Group Decisions in the Real World

Not that we need to make this task harder, but while reading earlier, I thought of a complication that would often be present in group decision making in the real world. In our groups, no-one really has their own agenda; we are all working together, collaborating for the group in order to do as well as we can. There are no competing agendas or ulterior motives. Additionally, we are all equals - no one person has any more say than another in theory (that might be different in practice!).

However, within a business for example, many groups might be composed of multi-functional teams, or with management of varying levels of positional power present. Each of these might have different areas of concern, i.e. the finance manager's role might be to cut costs, the engineer might be attempting to maximise quality, the marketing manager might wish to preserve the size of the budget available, etc. So how do the competing agendas of these people affect their decision making, and consequently, the ability of the group to make decisions? There is bound to be some bias in the proceedings. We know that Deming would advise that the best way forward would be to break down the barriers between these people, instill constancy of purpose, and get everyone thinking about the organisations goal as a system, rather than their own. But of course, in practice, this is difficult.

So, I wonder, what would this task have been like if we were all to play a role? Pretty difficult I imagine, to the point that it might even defeat the purpose of trying to use all the tools and work together. However, maybe there is cause to have a seminar on this, or some (LE style) role-playing exercise to explore the challenges of a situation like this?


- 3 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Hi, Yanik. Really good post. In real world, some situations like you reflected are indeed frustrated. All equals? It is a ideal world. Yes, ‘get everyone thinking about the organizations goal as a system’ is the best choice, in practice, it is really difficult. But when everyone regards their organizations goal as their own goal, this organization must be a great organization has strong competitive.

    12 Mar 2011, 21:37

  2. Good post Yanik…........... The components of the system may introduce problems when a decision is to be made. Yeah thinking about Deming and eliminate the barriers so you can achieve the common purpose. It is difficult in practice. However i think that when you try as a manager to achieve elimination of the barriers the point is to make people think like that.

    If you train and create a culture team thinking it will be easier. So in the example of decision making if the production director think from the begining that the decision that he take will affect the marketing department i think you achieve that system thinking.

    It is about Learning Organization and how you develop a culture. I think also Senge has done great Job on it…............

    13 Mar 2011, 17:01

  3. Oh, great idea. system thinking is a good way to develop a culture. If this system thinking was operated well, how powerful it is !!! Yeah, wonderful!!!

    13 Mar 2011, 18:28


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