What is group decision making? By definition, it is when a group of people act collectively to analyze a problem or situation and select a solution together from all available courses of action. It only takes two people to make a group, but it can be of any size and can be a formal or informal process. If you’re looking at installing this type of process in your professional environment, then here are the pros and cons of group decision making to consider before finalizing your decision.
What Are the Pros of Group Decision Making?
1. It brings more diversity into the decision making process.
Different people bring different strengths to the decision that needs to be made. Their unique experiences can help create a better overall analysis of the situation so a better decision can be made. Each group member has a positive quality that can be tapped to create a superior solution than if just one person was held responsible for the decision being made.
2. More potential alternatives can be analyzed.
Different people see situations in unique ways. When multiple people are involved, then there are more alternatives that can be considered. This allows for more potential solutions to be made available, ultimately giving the organization a better opportunity to choose the best possible path forward. This is because more experiences create more ideas, which then creates more solutions.
3. It creates a better overall collective understanding.
When one person makes a decision, there will be several others within the organization that will question the methods and logic behind it. By involving more people in the process, then there is a greater sense of ownership of the ultimate decision that is made. This lessens the amount of disharmony and gossip that will float around afterward.
4. Changes become easier to implement.
When decisions are made, it means the organization is evolving in some way for the better. Because there is a greater ownership of the decision when a group makes it, the fight against change lessens. Instead of “this is the way we’ve always done things,” the response tends to be “what can I do to help make this happen” because the results that can be achieved become a reflection of the decision makers.
What Are the Cons of Group Decision Making?
1. It often takes more time for a group to make a decision.
This is because everyone in the group typically wants to have their feedback or opinion heard. They want to be involved in the process. Instead of one person evaluating available information and then proceeding, there is typically 2-7 people reviewing the same information and then debating the available solutions. If an organization needs to move quickly, this can be quite problematic.
2. Many people can feel pressured to conform to a certain point of view.
If there are people in a minority position in the group decision making process, then the majority can put a lot of pressure on these individuals to conform to their point of view. Imagine 11 people want to convict a defendant, but 1 person believes the individual is not guilty – the pressure to change can be intense. When in the minority, some individuals may even compromise their moral convictions simply because of the pressures that are placed on them to conform.
3. Many groups tend to converge on extreme solutions instead of realistic ones.
This is because group members often feel less responsible for the final decision which gets made because they didn’t directly make the decision. Everyone did. This can lead a group to choose the extreme solutions more often than the ones which are most realistic.
4. Not every possible solution may be evaluated for merit.
Because there tends to be suppression by the majority of a minority opinion, alternative solutions may not be explored even if they are viable for the organization. This is because through the deterioration of the individual, the easiest possible solution is often the one that is wanted. Unless there are policies and procedures in place to prevent this, the groupthink which occurs, especially in groups that are highly cohesive, can become very damaging.
The pros and cons of group decision making show that it can be an effective way to generate new ideas, but without proper management, it can also lead to improper solutions. By considering each key point carefully, we all can approach the group decision sessions we encounter on a regular basis with more effectiveness.