The right synergy
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.
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.