The right syn­ergy

The Smart Manager - - Contents - AB­HISHEK NIR­JAR IS DI­REC­TOR OF IFIM BUSI­NESS SCHOOL.

Ab­hishek Nir­jar, IFIM, ex­plores the re­la­tion­ship be­tween group dy­nam­ics and de­ci­sion-mak­ing.

Ar­riv­ing at a mu­tu­ally ac­cept­able and con­struc­tive de­ci­sion while work­ing in groups can be a chal­leng­ing task. It is there­fore im­por­tant that or­ga­ni­za­tions pay at­ten­tion to nur­tur­ing strong team val­ues that im­pact de­ci­sion-mak­ing.

De­ci­sion-mak­ing is the process of ex­am­in­ing your pos­si­bil­i­ties, com­par­ing them, and choos­ing a course of ac­tion. In the world of busi­ness—wherein there is en­hanced un­cer­tainty, am­bi­gu­ity, and fierce com­pe­ti­tion—de­ci­sions taken are always of ex­tremely high im­por­tance; it can make or break the busi­ness. Com­pa­nies that grow and suc­ceed con­tin­u­ously have mas­tered the process of tak­ing the right de­ci­sions.

In busi­ness, de­ci­sions are sel­dom taken by a sin­gle per­son and they usu­ally do not im­pact only an in­di­vid­ual. They in­volve peo­ple and they are for peo­ple. As the above def­i­ni­tion states, there are three parts to de­ci­sion-mak­ing: gen­er­at­ing pos­si­ble op­tions, ex­am­in­ing and com­par­ing

them, and choos­ing the one that seems the best pos­si­ble in the pre­vail­ing sit­u­a­tion. De­ci­sions taken by a group of peo­ple are far more com­plex than those by an in­di­vid­ual. Be­fore em­bark­ing on the dy­nam­ics of group de­ci­sion­mak­ing, one needs to un­der­stand the process of de­ci­sion­mak­ing. One of the most ef­fec­tive and easy-to-un­der­stand meth­ods is the use of the six Cs of de­ci­sion-mak­ing.

con­struct: It starts with creat­ing a clear con­struct of what needs to be de­cided: what is the de­ci­sion point?

com­pile: To en­sure that de­ci­sion leads to the de­sired out­come, it is im­per­a­tive to as­sess and com­pile a list of re­quire­ments that must be met by the de­ci­sion.

col­lect: The next step is to col­lect in­for­ma­tion about the pos­si­ble al­ter­na­tives that meet the re­quire­ments iden­ti­fied and com­piled.

com­pare: Com­par­ing al­ter­na­tives is the most im­por­tant part of the en­tire process.

con­sider: Weigh in what might go wrong with each al­ter­na­tive.

com­mit­ment: Lastly, make a com­mit­ment to one of the al­ter­na­tives and fol­low through it.

the di­men­sions

Group de­ci­sion-mak­ing is a com­plex process. It in­volves a set of in­di­vid­u­als who bring with them a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence, which is an out­come of their value sys­tem, thought process, pri­or­i­ties, domain of work, and many more fac­tors. Ev­ery­one has a men­tal model of how a firm cre­ates value and it is ex­tremely chal­leng­ing for any­one to ac­cept an­other, or to ask whether their model is right or whether it would evolve and change with vary­ing sit­u­a­tions. The other dimension of groups is that there are in­di­vid­u­als who can look into the fu­ture—vi­su­al­ize how things would shape up in times to come—while there are some who are un­able to see be­yond the next quar­ter. Imagine the dif­fi­culty of tak­ing a de­ci­sion re­gard­ing the fu­ture of the busi­ness by a group con­sist­ing of both types of in­di­vid­u­als. The third dimension of group dy­nam­ics is or­ga­ni­za­tional pol­i­tics. Pol­i­tics is not a dirty word as it is always un­der­stood. What we of­ten wit­ness is its neg­a­tive side, where in peo­ple are try­ing to con­nive with each other, but it has a pos­i­tive side too.

The reason for pur­su­ing a de­ci­sion with a neg­a­tive ap­proach can be many—most of­ten, it is be­cause peo­ple be­gin to fear loss of their position/job. One might think how would that im­pact de­ci­sions? When de­ci­sions are aimed at bring­ing about rad­i­cal changes in the or­ga­ni­za­tional work­ing or out­comes, peo­ple tend to imagine the im­pact it would have on their work and drift to neg­a­tive thoughts.

mould­ing a group

In such a sce­nario, how should one de­velop group dy­nam­ics so as to be con­struc­tive, pos­i­tive, and con­trib­ute to tak­ing the right de­ci­sions within a given time frame? The mech­a­nism de­pends on cer­tain fac­tors that need to be put into prac­tice. This begins with the most cru­cial as­pect of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, which is of­ten given least

Be­fore em­bark­ing on the dy­nam­ics of group de­ci­sion-mak­ing, one needs to un­der­stand the process of de­ci­sion­mak­ing.

im­por­tance. The right de­ci­sion de­pends on ef­fec­tively com­mu­ni­cat­ing—the de­ci­sion to be taken, its im­pact, and its im­por­tance for the or­ga­ni­za­tion—to the group in­volved in the de­ci­sion-mak­ing. Once this is done, the group should be en­cour­aged to ask ques­tions to gain clar­ity about the way for­ward. They should also be en­cour­aged to fo­cus on the out­come and go through the var­i­ous steps of as­sess­ing the op­tions thread­bare to get to the best de­ci­sion in the pre­vail­ing sit­u­a­tion.

The group should be re­minded of the vi­sion (vis-avis the de­ci­sion) time and again so that they stay on track to ar­rive at the right de­ci­sion. To en­sure that the group mem­bers are open to ques­tion­ing their men­tal mod­els, lead­ers must demon­strate this abil­ity them­selves and then ask oth­ers to do so—by chal­leng­ing their men­tal mod­els re­gard­ing value cre­ation. Build­ing a con­sen­sus should be based on what is good for the or­ga­ni­za­tion in the long run, and that calls for ad­her­ing to Fayol’s prin­ci­ple of man­age­ment: sub­or­di­na­tion of in­di­vid­ual in­ter­est to or­ga­ni­za­tional in­ter­est. It is not easy to do so but can be achieved by an it­er­a­tive process of pro­vid­ing clar­ity of vi­sion and the crit­i­cal­ity of the de­ci­sion.

In a world where nov­elty is the only thing that can lead to pos­i­tive re­sults, it be­comes im­per­a­tive to evolve the thought process of the group in a fo­cused and spe­cific di­rec­tion. So, cre­ate fo­cus for de­ci­sion-mak­ing, com­mu­ni­cate with clar­ity, challenge men­tal mod­els—your own and that of oth­ers—and then gen­er­ate a con­sen­sus on what is good and im­por­tant for the or­ga­ni­za­tion and not for a spe­cific con­stituency.

Or­ga­ni­za­tions that build pro­cesses for clear com­mu­ni­ca­tion, putting the com­pany above per­sonal and vested in­ter­ests, and be­lieves in the fact that an or­ga­ni­za­tion grows as much as its peo­ple grow and vice versa, are those that best uti­lize group dy­nam­ics for de­ci­sion-mak­ing. ■

In a world where nov­elty is the only thing that can lead to pos­i­tive re­sults, it be­comes im­per­a­tive to evolve the thought process of the group in a fo­cused and spe­cific di­rec­tion.

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