Group Decision-Making Approaches

When a large group of stakeholders are involved in arriving at a decision, it can be quite overwhelming and complicated deciding on which path to take or the best way forward. 

Group decision-making can easily become complicated with factors such as groupthink, self-censoring and egos to contend with. Where a decision needs to be made within a group, there are a number of approaches that can be taken to arrive at the right decision.

These approaches are drawn from PMBOK 5th edition but can be applied in group elicitation events like brainstorming and workshop sessions. They are explained below:

  1. Unanimity - With this approach, everyone agrees on a single course of action and this is the direction that is taken. Let us use the example of a company selecting an ERP solution to implement. All key stakeholders have to meet, evaluate the options and identify the solution to implement. Unanimity involves making decisions with everyone in agreement.
  2. Majority - With this approach, at least 50% of the participants in the group session must agree on the way forward. Let’s assume the number of stakeholders looking to decide on which ERP solution to implement is 10. If 6 out of 10 agree that the solution to implement is Sage ERP, the business goes in this direction.
  3. Plurality - In this approach, the decision is made by the biggest group of participants. Using the same example of an ERP implementation, let’s assume the main users are split into Production (Comprising 3 people), Finance (Comprising 4 people) and HR (Comprising 3 people). The decision proposed by finance has a higher weight since Finance has the biggest group of users that will be affected. 
  4. Dictatorship - With this approach, only one person makes the decision. This approach places a higher weight on the decision arrived at by the person with the highest authority in the room while the decisions of other team members are discarded.

The approach to be adopted would be heavily influenced by the nature/complexity of the decision to be made, the work culture, the level of expertise available to make that decision as well as any peculiar circumstances surrounding the decision to be made.

Picture Attribution:  Hands Together” by Ambro/