The most common form of group decision making takes place in interacting groups. In these groups, members meet face-to-face and rely on both verbal and nonverbal interaction to communicate with each other. But as our discussion of groupthink demonstrated ,interacting groups often censor themselves and pressure individual members toward conformity of opinion. Brainstorming the nominal group technique, and electronic meetings have been proposed as ways to reduce many of the problems inherent in the traditional interacting group.
Brainstorming is meant to overcome pressures for conformity in the interacting group that retard the development of creative alternatives .It does this by utilizing an idea-generation process that specifically encourages any and all alternatives , while withholding any criticism of those alternatives.
The nominal group technique restricts discussion or interpersonal communication during the decision-making process, hence, the term nominal Group members are all physically present, as in a traditional committee meeting but members operate independently.
Specifically, a problem is presented and then the following steps take place :
1. Members meet as a group but. Before any discussion takes place, each member independently writes down his or her ideas on the problem.
2. After this silent period, each member presents one idea to the group. Each member takes his or her turn, presenting a single idea until all ideas have been presented and recorded .No discussions takes place until all ideas have been recorded.
3. The group now discusses the ideas for clarity and evaluates them
4. Each group member silently and independently rank-orders the ideas. The ideas with the highest aggregate ranking determines the final decision.
In a typical brainstorming session, the group leader states the problem in a clear manner so that it is understood by all participants .Members then freewheel as many alternatives as they can in a given length of time .No criticism is allowed, and all the alternatives are recorded for later discussion and analysis
The most recent approach to group decision making blends the nominal group technique with sophisticated computer technology .It’s called computer-assisted group or electronic meeting. Once the technology is in place the concept is simple .Issues are presented to participants and they type their response onto their computer screen.
The major advantages of electronic meetings are anonymity, honesty and speed. Participants can type any message they want and it flashes on the computer screen for all to see.
The future of group meetings undoubtedly will include extensive use of this technology. The choice of one technique over the another will depend on what criteria you want to emphasize and the cost-benefit trade-off. The interacting group is good for building group cohesiveness, brainstorming keeps social pressures to a minimum, the nominal group technique is an is an inexpensive means for generating a large number of ideas, and electronic meetings process ideas fast.