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Group Decision Making     

Group decision making is a process and a tool that helps to identify and bring together all the available alternatives to any context that requires solutions or changes. It creates the space and time to jointly analyze and select the most suitable and realistic solution. 

The planning part of a group decision making process is crucial. Bringing a group together to make decisions involves developing a framework that fosters everyone's participation and contribution in an ethical and equal way. It is also the process that constructs a shared foundation of collective knowledge by generating highlights of expertise, perspectives, differences of opinions etc. The process is done in a facilitative style and careful planning is needed in terms of choosing the content, how to approach it, which tools and resources are needed to support it etc.

Here's your two-fold approach in facilitating a successful group decision making process;

1-  The framework

Develop a framework that clearly identifies goals, topics of discussions and desired outcomes. Include a column of known-alternatives/information. This gives a chance to the group to further explore and/or build upon existing resources and best practices.

Identify the exploratory, analytical and facilitation tools. Make use of as many visual tools as possible. And by visual tools we don't mean powerpoint presentations. The selected tools must help produce a visual thinking process and help design a participatory agreement on the identified and selected  alternatives to make a decision. Some of the tools you may use are fishbone diagram, nominal group technique, problem solving techniques etc.

2- The Process:

The process of reaching a decision is sometimes more important than the decision itself. If there's very little discussion or debate, very limited alternatives that only benefit the individuals of the group, it really becomes a dishonest exercise that carries a fancy tag. In order to avoid this, you need to build your role as a facilitator/moderator of the group decision making process. Facilitation is a skill and skills can be learned. The following tips are designed to enhance your facilitation skills.

  • Make sure you provide equal participation opportunities to everyone in the group

  • Take off you manager's hat and become a facilitator; you role is to support an effective and fruitful thinking and analysis process. 

  • Remain impartial and non-judgmental

  • Establish ground rules right from the beginning of the process

  • Be flexible- even though you have a framework for the process you need to able to embrace changes and new ideas.

  • Use icebreakers to create an informal and comfortable environment.

  • Be honest and transparent-"practice what you preach"

  • Facilitate the process without assuming the end result

  • Continuesly remind the group the goal of the process


Group decision making is a very empowering process that ensures everyone has a say and offers equal contribution and expertise. However, there are a few dangers related to a group decision making process. 

Group  characteristics have a direct  impact on the quality of the process and on the result of decisions; groups that are homogeneous can manipulate the decision making process; they tent to seek an unhealthy consensus that limits alternatives and options.

Some of the indicators suggest process manipulation are:

- Lack of discussion or debate.
- Everyone just agrees with one another. 
- They are very limited alternatives discussed.


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Group Decision Making Related Articles:

Nominal Group Technique 

Fishbone Diagram

Decision Making Steps

Decision Making Tips

Problem Solving Techniques

Split Second Decision Making

Rational Decision Making Process

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 Dr Franklin C. Ashby 

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