- Written by Stephen Booth
- Category: Research
- Hits: 1442
A group of colleagues get together to discuss an issue and make a decision or recommendation. This style is most useful where an issue crosses team/departmental or knowledge domain boundaries. Ideally all participants will know each other and be of a similar level in the organisation. Advantages include that the decision or recommendation will have buy in from participants as they have contributed to it and, if the group is correctly selected, will benefit from the different areas of knowledge and experience the participants bring. The disadvantages include that it can take a long time for every one to be heard and for consensus to be reached so is not suitable where a quick answer is needed; the end result may be a compromise so lack internal consistency or not be fit for purpose ("A camel is a horse designed by committee"); if one person or a clique have strong opinions and the ability to force their view (e.g. due to greater role power outside the context of the group) others may feel they have been cheated of their chance to contribute or have not been heard and so resent the 'imposition' of the decision/recommendation; some group members may 'coast' and let others doe the work; in the event of problems (especially if there has been a compromise or 'imposed' result) it can be difficult to assign accountability as group members may point to others as the cause of the failure and 'blame-storming' can result, similarly in event of success some members may claim credit due to others or the group as a whole. Employing the services of a facilitator and scribe who are independent of the group and have no stake in the result can help avoid or mitigate the disadvantages as they can ensure that everyone is heard, some participants don't dominate whilst other can't get a word in, everyone does contribute, contributions are recorded and correctly attributed and that time-wasting activities (e.g. arguments that don't contribute to moving towards the goal) are cut short and effort is directed towards the goal.
One person alone, usually with role power, considers an issue and makes a decision or recommendation. This style is most useful where an issue is contained within a single area and does not cross team/departmental or knowledge domain boundaries, also where the result can be enforced by diktat so buy in is not required. Ideally the person making the decision or recommendation will be knowledgeable in the area being considered. Advantages include that process will usually be quick as there is no need to consider different view points (although time may be required for research) and there is a clear point of accountability for the success or failure of the decision or recommendation with no option for 'blame-storming'. Disadvantages include that there is no buy in or consensus so others may feel uninvolved and give only grudging support; it relies on the skills and knowledge of one person, it is subject to the beliefs and prejudices of one person with no counter view so a better result may be missed due to an unhelpful belief or prejudice.