How Do We Make Good Team Decisions?

It can be difficult for the project team to make good decisions.  Should the scope of work be reduced?  Can we really do the work in the time provided?  What happens now that Dan is out for two weeks having surgery? The art of effective team decision-making is a difficult art to master.  I’m sorry to say that heads-or-tails, scissors-rock-paper and odds-or-evens are not the recommended approaches for making good team decisions!  Of course, we can always use these approaches to decision-making if we find ourselves in a pinch!

Luckily there are a number of methods recommended for team decision-making.  I found an excellent list of seven such methods along with an interesting analysis of both their strengths and weaknesses at www.foundationcoalition.org/home/keycomponents/teams/decision2.html.  There is also a recommendation for when each method might be applied.  The methods are based on the work of D. W. and R. T. Johnson as well as E.J. Holubec in their book Circles of Learning: Cooperation in the Classroom. The seven recommended methods include:

1. Decision made by authority without team discussion, where the designated leader makes all decisions without consulting the team members

2. Decision by expert, where an expert is selected from the team, the expert considers the issues, and makes the decision

3. Decision by averaging individuals’ opinions, where we separately ask each team member for their opinion and average the results

4. Decision made by authority after group discussion, where the team creates ideas and has discussions, but the designated leader makes the final decision.

5. Decision by minority, taking a minority of the team, such as two or more members who constitute less than 50% of the team, who will make the team’s decision

6. Decision by majority vote, the most common method in the United States, where the team discusses the decision until 51% or more of the team members agree upon the decision

7. Decision by consensus where a collective team decision is arrived at through an effective and fair communication process in which all team members spoke and listened, and all inputs were valued

Do you see any of your favorite team-decision making methods in the list?

Susan Weese

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