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Problem Solving & Decision Making Techniques Essay

Over the past nine weeks of working in our home groups, we have entered and exited several problem solving and decision making processes. Although we have produced some good solutions, the overall process could be improved. In order to make our group more successful in implementing our chosen solutions we need to : improve on problem solving and decision making techniques, using discussion questions effectively with consideration of conflict management styles in the group. Applying these principles can help achieve true group consensus and increase the groups productivity. In accordance with the functional theory, five task requirements must be met in order to guarantee success. Our group needs improvement in 3 of 5 of the task requirements: discussing and creating criteria, identifying alternatives, and thoroughly evaluating alternative ( strengths and weaknesses) based on criteria.

To refocus the group on improving our execution of the task requirements associated with functional theory, I hypothesize that PMOPS and PERT would be highly effective. PMOPS, acronym for procedural model of problem solving, is a flexible guideline that leads through phases of problem solving process. We must also improve our review process of procedures and proposed final decision. The use of systematic problem solving procedures, like PMOPS, keeps groups of point. This type of procedure makes sure group doesn’t miss any vital steps, which aids in producing effective solutions. As a group we need to create and rank our criteria, based on importance to group members. Clarifying what is important to individual group members fosters group satisfaction and provides insight to personal values. To the identify other alternatives, the use of critical thinking strategies can be effective for example: brainstorming and problem mapping.

As we move through the decision making process and begin proposing solutions, a member should be listing all that are discussed. Often there are too many options to be thoroughly discussed due to time constraints. When encountered with the issue of time, narrowing the list of solutions becomes paramount. Some of the solutions may be similar, and therefore can be combined. If combining doesn’t eliminate enough options, we can take a vote on which are most favored. Voting, as a process of elimination, could assist members who are less verbal in stating their opinion (Nancy and Albert). However, charting pros and cons can be a more effective and objective procees of elimination. All options need to be assessed for meeting out criteria. we seldom establish criteria at the start of a discussion, or follow through with any of the previously mentioned techniques. After selecting a solution we must implement it, preferably in my opinion, using PERT. ” Pert helps do this by asking those responsible for implementation to makes a chart showing deadline dates for completion of various tasks and the names of individuals or groups responsible” (Adams, 2012).

We can also improve our decision making process by effectively using discussion questions, to unearth true nature of problem/charge. Discussion questions allow the group to locate a solution, for problem, question, or issue, that focuses on what “should” be done. The use of vague or limiting question s could be stifling production of alternatives. ” As an impact variable, the discussion question has a far-reaching effect on the systems throughput process and its subsequent output. We should try to avoid using either-or structure and including answers in questions. This is a manipulative ploy that is often used in our group, especially by me. Also using ambiguous or double-barreled vernacular can mislead or confuse the group. I am also a perpetrator of this, often used to persuade opposing members. Thoroughly discussing the problem also keeps group from becoming solution minded prematurely. My group often does this, jumping headfirst in deciding on a solution.

We completely skip evaluating a generating alternatives. This can limit options that may be more beneficial for the group to perform better. PMOPS and other systematic procedures my correct this frequent group behavior. Putting to use the different conflict management styles in the group could possibly aid in our reducing the time used during our decision making process. If we better understand the styles in play we can become more cohesive and increase member involvement. Our group is seemingly fairly cohesive, but lack of member involvement (Albert and Nancy) possibly prove otherwise. Their lack of involvement, avoidance style, limits their input of opinions. So we cannot be absolutely sure where they stand and if they agree with decisions. Christina exhibits some avoidance, as it relates to conflict, and switches to collaborative style to eventually referee lengthy arguments.

Mason usually takes on a competitive style, usually arguing adamantly and proposing supportive evidence for his arguments. When this becomes fleeting, he turns to a more collaborative style to meet his needs. I was observed to be quite competitive until stalemate is reached, and the transition into an accommodating style is used to reach a consensus. I have assessed the problem solving and decision making processes my group most readily uses, as well as flaws in its execution. Our group could really benefit from the use of systematic problem solving procedures like, PMOPS and PERT. Coming to the realization that discussion questions are important, has influenced me to use them in discussion. They are necessary for clarifying the problem and coming up with the best possible solutions. With that being said; understanding and proper application of our conflict management styles will aid in all areas needing improvement.

Bibliography
Adams , K. , Galanes , G. (2012). Communicating in groups: Applications and skills New York: McGraw-Hill.
Larson , C. E. , Lafasto , F. M. J. , (1989). TeamWork: What Must Go Right, What Can Go Wrong. Newbury Park: Sage.


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