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Exercises to Help Facilitate Group Decision Making

written by: Andrea Campbell • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 12/8/2010

Business people that work intently all day long are in their own head and mental state and often not used to brainstorming with other colleagues for solutions. This lack of homogeneity between people means a manager needs to go the extra mile and that requires group decision making exercises.

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    Challenge Them with Ethics

    companymeetingopt Begin your group decision making exercises by offering the group a scenario that they need to solve as a team. Using a situation that has ethical implications is a great way to get the ball rolling. Pose a question, give them one minute to read the problem, then set a time limit to when they need to resolve the problem to everyone’s satisfaction. Here is a typical managerial situation to put forward:

    "A former worker that you supervised was fired for incompetence and numerous violations of confidential information. After many weeks, the former employee comes in asking for a letter of recommendation. He states that he has not been able to find a job and since you fired him, you owe him and he has a family to support. What should you do?"

    a. Write a letter praising him in the highest terms. You don’t want to be responsible for any harm that comes to his family.

    b. Make it clear that you will write the letter but only if you can discuss in frank terms the reason for his removal.

    c. Decline to write the letter. Tell him that your legal duty is to present the truth and any omission or deception puts you in a compromising situation and you would be unable to endorse or recommend him in a favorable way.

    d. Delegate the problem to someone else.

    e. Your solution.

    Write up other problems along these lines to challenge your group.

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    False Observation

    bizmazeopt We go through life doing a lot of things on autopilot, especially for time’s sake. This means we are not quite as observant as we think we are.

    Set this next set of group decision making exercises up ahead of time to work properly. Everyone has paper and pencil. You are going to fill a tray with a variety of unrelated objects. An assistant will come into the room carrying a tray and take it around, showing each team member the contents for a few seconds—and then they will leave the room quickly. The winners will be the persons who can write down the most things about the assistant, the person carrying the tray. The assumption players will have is that they need to memorize what’s on the tray and they most likely won't pay attention to anything else. Discuss the results and how this is applicable to their function in the workplace.

    This is a great exercise to demonstrate mindfulness. Perhaps your team needs to set up a display for a convention presentation, this will get them thinking about what gets seen or not.

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    Wrapping Up

    Before you leave the group, talk about some of the "best forms of mindset for making decisions with others" such as:

    • there are no stupid questions
    • all ideas are worth hearing when making choices
    • record the meeting or have participants take notes
    • put a time limit on brainstorming to keep things on the issue at hand
    • use props, sounds, charts or anything that can serve as a sensory prompt

    As a manager, keep a set of instructions, prompts, or a log for each activity to help group decision making exercises get set up and started promptly. In the end, your groups will always have the best ideas.

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    Resources & Reference


    Reference: Great Games for Great Parties by Andrea Campbell (Sterling Publishers, 1991, 2002)

    Photos are

Leadership Skills, Styles and Tactics

This article series deals with the difference between management and leadership; the challenges leaders face, basic concepts of strategic leadership and the top ten communication issues and how to avoid them
  1. Explaining the Difference Between Management and Leadership
  2. Basic Concepts of Strategic Leadership
  3. Greatest Leadership Challenges Facing Today's Project Managers
  4. Top 10 Team Communication Issues and How to Avoid Them
  5. Exercises to Help Facilitate Group Decision Making