For executive leaders, few leadership skills are more central to success than consensus building (Berman & Werther, 1996). For the Japanese, consensus building is a trademark of their decision making, increasing the time needed to make decisions, but also increasing the speed change is implemented (Martinsons & Davison, 2007). For Western executives, consensus building through group decision making may not be natural, but could increase success levels and provide a competitive advantage.
Group decision making has many different forms, all with their own advantages and disadvantages (Brahm & Kleiner, 1996). All of them are designed to increase idea development, provide avenues of communication, and increase trust among those involved (Brahm & Kleiner, 1996). Group decision making is often a prelude to attaining cooperation, commitment, and strategic success (Hit et al., 1991). It also provides greater opportunity for creativity and innovation, sometimes as much as a 44% increase than traditional problem solving methods (Barkers et al., 2001).
Group decision making methods include brainstorming (verbal generation of ideas), brain writing (generation of ideas through writing), buzz session (subgroup problem solving within a larger group), quality circles (informal committees), and nominal group techniques (mixture of brainstorming and brain writing) (Brahm & Kleiner, 1996). Each method has its strengths and weaknesses. For example, brainstorming is strong in generation of a high volume of ideas, while it’s weakness is that there is no filter on the high volume of ideas and they must be sorted later (Brahm & Kleiner, 1996). Quality circles on the other hand have the advantage of involving those highly familiar with the problems being discussed, while the disadvantage is that the supervisor acts as a guide rather than a decision maker, and is handed a decision to accept or reject without being part of the process (Brahm & Kleiner, 1996).
Barker, L. L., Wahlers, K. J., & Watson, K. W. (2001). Groups in process: an introduction to small group communication (6th ed). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
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Brahm, C., & Kleiner, B. H. (1996). Advantages and disadvantages of group decision‐ making approaches. Team Performance Management: An International Journal, 2(1), 30–35. http://doi.org/10.1108/13527599610105538
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Martinsons, M. G., & Davison, R. M. (2007). Strategic decision making and support systems: Comparing American, Japanese and Chinese management. Decision Support Systems, 43(1), 284–300. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.dss.2006.10.005