Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Organizational Change - May 2011

My reflections from the readings and discussions to this point in my exposure to organizational development have given me relevant insight as to why this is an important field to study.  The need for organizational development and planned change within organizations exists due to the reality that environments in which organizations operate are dynamic and in an ever evolving state of change.   Changes to the environment could come from internal factors as well as external ones.  Countless sources such as change in customer behavior, changes to supply and demand, pressure from regulators or other oversight agencies and countless other factors that must be considered as part of a long term plan for success within any given field.  It is because the need to respond to change is such an integral part of any organization future that the study of organizational development is becoming more important to the leaders of any organization that is working to achieve or maintain long term success.
            I believe that most people within a given organization have a fundamental aversion to and general negative attitude towards the concept of change within the organization.  People fear changes within an organization because change carries with it the potential to have a negative impact on their lives.  My real world experience with organizational change is from the point of view of the employee who has had little or no input into the process.  Decisions that are handed down by leadership teams are often very stressful and unsettling for the workers not involved in the decision making process.  I've often labeled many of the management approaches to change within my organization as the "ready, fire, aim" method.  I believe that it is the people within the organization that make it a success or failure and I am encouraged to see that this is acknowledged on page 78 of Organizational Development and Change where the authors note, "Certainly, OD consulting is as much a person specialization as it is a task specialization."  This speaks to me about the importance of acknowledging the human factors involved in this field.  As I grow and become more educated in the field of OD, I am interested in learning methods and best practices around implementing changes in such as way as to minimize stress and trauma to the workforce.  Creating an environment where employees or volunteers understand the need for change and embrace those changes are areas where I believe more organizations need to focus.   Communication needs to be appropriate and thoughtful.  I'd like to explore the facets of OD that focus on creating a culture changes to the organization take the steps necessary to ensure the vision of the change is shared with those who the changes will impact in a respectful manner.  Security is a fundamental human need and too often changes within an organization and the justifications and ends desired by those changes are not properly communicated to those who ultimately are called upon to implement and execute around the prescribed changes. 
            I am interested in learning more about the processes involved in arriving at quality decision making.  I do not see myself pursuing a career as an OD specialist, but I certainly see the importance and relevance of understanding these concepts as a frontline sales manager.  Sales and sales management is where my career path has taken me.  I do not see myself pursuing a role as specialist in the field of OD either internally or as an external consultant.  Cummings and Worley paint a picture of a hectic career that demands 15 hour days and 6 day work weeks.  Perhaps I was better suited for such work 10 years ago.  They warn us that this is a field with a career focused lifestyle that can cause you to burnout quickly.  I already have high anxiety in my current career; I'm not interested in going from the frying pan into the fire.  I am interested in learning more about OD and how it can help me become a better decision maker and become more effective as a frontline sales manager.  While I do not desire a role as a full time consultant, I would welcome the opportunity to have my opinions heard by upper management when called upon to participate in OD issues.  Understanding what works and what doesn't work in an organization and taking that knowledge and incorporating it into quality recommendations for continued success or for improvement is what I'm most interested in.  Understanding how people think about change and respond to it is also something that I'm interested in because I understand that change is inevitable.  I want to learn the practical application to the theories presented in this course.  I want to learn how to apply these theories in my own daily interactions to help create better outcomes not only for the organization, but for the people who the organization serves, for the employees and for anyone who interacts with the organization. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Decision Making in Groups

The material presented by Patton in Decision-Making Group Interaction Achieving Quality addresses the theories, concepts and characteristics concerning groups, group dynamics and quality decision making within groups.   The importance of quality communication in achieving a quality result was presented as a persistent central theme throughout the course of study.  Patton advances the idea that effective communication and interaction within the group is necessary to provide conditions likely to result in quality decision making.  In addition to Patton's material, several group exercises and case studies were presented as part of the curriculum and were valuable in evaluating theories and experiencing concepts learned through practical application. 
This paper summarizes four specific key concepts brought forward in this module and will be analyzed from both an academic standpoint as well as from knowledge gained through personal experience. The topics addressed here include group and individual decision-making techniques, human behavior in groups, conflict and conflict resolution and group problem solving.  All of these elements play a significant role in the quality decision making.

Group and Individual Decision-Making Techniques
            Once a group has been assembled, the success of the group depends on its ability to communicate with each member in an effective manner.  There are a number of steps that a group must take when presented with a task to ensure that a quality decision can be achieved.  Patton refers to Nancy R. Tague's "Flowchart of the Quality Group" to illustrate the flow of the decision-making process. The flow or progression though the process of identifying a common problem, analyzing the issues, evaluating proposed solutions and implementing a decision are common to ensure a successful outcome.
            Identifying a common problem speaks to the question "what are we here for and what do we want to accomplish?"   A well defined task of interest to all concerned helps the group to identify the common need and establish the purpose for the group coming together.  Without a common goal, members of the group will be ill equipped to arrive at a quality outcome.  This phase is also important in determining if the group assembled possesses the knowledge, skills and mutual concern needed to accomplish the objectives of the group. 
            After a clear common goal has been established, the group advances the process by analyzing the problem.  In this step the group makes a comparison of what exists now versus what is desired.  An analysis of the problem includes determining the scope of the issue at hand.  How large is the problem?  What forces are at work?  Questions are presented in an attempt to determine the root causes of the issue. This is also where the group must understand and analyze the impelling forces that are driving the need for resolution as well as the constraining forces that are present.  In analyzing the problem, individuals may disagree over the degree of intensity of a problem without disagreeing on the facts and refers to how much commitment should be assigned to one basic value or value system. 
            Evaluating proposed solutions is the third step of this four-stage technique decision-making process.  This step involves a critical evaluation of the various courses of action presented as possible solutions by the group.  Reasoning through the possible actions and outcomes in an effort to predict the outcome is part of this strategy.  This speaks to questions such as "Has this been tried elsewhere and what was the result?"  The group is charged with choosing proposes solutions that are most satisfactory for the group and which carry the support and commitment of the members.  There are also three fundamental criteria to consider when evaluating proposed solutions which include meeting the need for change, implementing the proposal and inherent disadvantages of the proposal.
            Implementing a decision is the final step in this process and takes place after the group members have come to an agreement on the proposed solutions.  A strong commitment from individual members is an import part of the groups overall success in execution on the agreed upon course of action.  Not only do individual members have to implement their particular action plans, but follow through must include developing an action plan for and mobilizing resources outside the group.  The five steps involved in developing and implementing an effective action plan are identifying specific steps to be accomplished, determining required resources, agreeing on individual responsibilities, providing for emergencies and planning for evaluations of the proposed plan. 
            The desert survival exercise provides real life example of our cohort coming together as a group to solve the problem of prioritizing a list of twenty items available to fictitious survivors of an aircraft crash in the desert.  Each of the four techniques outline above were utilized by the group as part of the decision-making process. 
The group was given instructions that identified the task for us and established our common goal and completed the first step in the process.  We analyzed the problem to gain understand about what the fundamental issues were and what factors were of highest priority in the scenario.  We asked questions such as "will the survivors stay at the crash site, or will they attempt to walk to safety?" We explored what the options were and came to an understanding of how we would approach various problems. 
Each member of the group participated by communicating their feelings, opinions and knowledge about individual items on the survival list.  In this phase of the process, possible solutions were evaluated by the group based on facts and perspectives gathered as part of the forum.  Critical thinking and open communication was utilized by the group to advance possible uses for each item on the list.  It was though the sharing of ideas that the group was able to gain a thorough understanding of the issues and allowed us to compile a list of possible solutions.
This exchange of ideas helped the group build a consensus regarding the ranking of each item on the list in order of importance to the survivalists.  The result of this vetting process was used and the group came to a decision that was satisfactory to all members.  Once we have reached an agreement on the actions we would take, the group executed on our decisions and submitted our conclusion for evaluation.

Human Behavior in Groups
Human behavior and its impact on interaction within the group were discussed in some detail throughout the course of our study.  Group dynamics are impacted by the unique personalities and perspectives of a given assembly.  Diversity, cultural factors, general predispositions and individual perception of others are all elements that come into play and have an influence on the communication, outcome and quality decision making within a given group.  Although groups are as unique as the individual members of the group, quality groups have certain characteristics in common. 
            One important characteristic of any group is cohesiveness.  This trait refers to the teamwork or group spirit which exists among members.  The concept of cohesion is one that can not be quantified using empirical data and research by Stokes refers to the examination of three constructs.  The level of cohesion can be evaluated via an evaluation of the attraction to individual members of the group, the instrumental value of the group and risk-taking behavior within the group.  A strong cohesion within a group will yield behavior such as acceptance, trust, a feeling of security and personal value among the members of the group.  This leads to a free and open exchange of ideas and opinions and allows members to express disagreement.
            One of the negative aspects of cohesiveness is the potential for groupthink to evolve.  Groupthink can occur whenever a cohesive group prematurely strives for agreement on an issue without ensuring that other options are explored and given proper consideration.  The eight characteristics that contribute to groupthink are an illusion of invulnerability, inherent morality of the group, rationalization, stereotyping of outsiders, self-censorship, direct pressure, mind guarding and the illusion of unanimity.  The leader of the group can avoid groupthink by ensuring all effective alternatives are explored.  The leader should foster positive decision-making by using their chair to ensure an open climate, avoid insulation of ideas, establish critical evaluators and should avoid being directive.
            Trust and cooperation is another behavior witnessed in quality groups.  Achieving mutual goals requires the individual members of the group to rely on one another in order for the group to succeed.  Cooperation develops among the team members as the reciprocation of trust and confidence cooperation is expected and realized.  Patton goes on to discuss a theoretical model called the "Prisoner's Dilemma" as an illustration of these concepts.
            Varying opinions and perspectives are beneficial to the group and are a result of the variations in cultural background and norms, value systems and viewpoints among group members.  This dynamic is referred to as factors of diversity within the group.  The demographics of the group weigh in here and traits as gender, race, ethnicity and other factors of diversity prove to be an important and desired characteristic of a quality group.   Research indicates that diverse groups benefit from the varied viewpoints of their individual members and tend to deliver quality decisions.
            My experience with human behavior in groups supports the material and observations presented in our class.  I participated in a group activity with my cohort where we were charged with reviewing performance evaluations for a number of fictitious employees.  The goal was to determine the order in which employees would be laid off from the organization in the case study based on information gathered from employee reviews. 
            The cohesiveness of our group had been building since the first day of class when we shared our histories and made personal introductions.  The group certainly exhibited a strong spirit of cooperation and trust that made it comfortable for members to communicate openly and allowed for the free exchange of ideas and unique perspectives.  Trust and cooperation was displayed as each member of the group participating in sharing their own unique bring viewpoint  and perspective about who they felt should be the first to be laid off. 
            Our group was made up of members with diverse backgrounds gender and race.  At the time I did not equate these factors of diversity with the outcome or quality of our decision, however, I now recognize that these factors are significant in arriving at a quality decision.  The group of fictitious employees represented a true-to-life example of the diversity typical in the workplace and our real life group was able to better relate to the individuals in the case study and arrive at decisions that were balanced by our own diversity.
            Regarding the eight characteristics of groupthink, I found the idea of self-censorship very interesting and quite revealing.  I have experienced moments where I have had a strong opinion about a matter before a group and yet have failed to advance my views.  I see how this behavior is something that I should be more aware of moving forward.  If I am called to be a member of a group, then it is my responsibility to the group to voice my opinions for the benefit of everyone and to ensure a quality decision is made.  It is also important to acknowledge that if I indeed have a strong feeling about a subject then it is likely or at least reasonable to assume that others may harbor the same opinions.

Conflict and Conflict Resolution
            During a meeting to discuss the allocation of resources, John proposes that new laptop computers are needed for his sales team as they would enhance sales productivity. Susan feels that such an investment would be a waste of money right now and that the resources would better serve the company and the sale force if they were used to enhance an existing marketing campaign.  This is an example of conflict within a group and should not always be viewed as a negative occurrence, but rather as a potentially beneficial process in the exchange of ideas that needs to be managed. 
The ability to control and react to conflict plays an important role in the overall success of the group. Conflict can have a positive role in arriving at quality decisions.  Patton refers to Kowitz and Knutson and uses a summary by Baird that suggests conflict does not always mean trouble for the group and that it can be a positive force for change and should be viewed as such.  He goes on to say that it is important to learn how to manage conflict effectively because of it affects several aspects of the work environment including efficiency, worker satisfaction and impacts the bottom-line.  Outcomes of conflicts can be described as win-win, win-lose or lose-lose and that resolutions that anything other than a win-win resolution is not desirable.  
The concept of interdependence suggests that each group member depends on the others members and the individual members have influence over each other.  Patton uses the illustration of Raven's model of means-goals and as they relate to the concept of the interdependence of groups to explain various scenarios.  This model discusses positive interdependence, independence and negative interdependence and their relationship to both the "what" (goals) and the "how" (means) components of a matter at hand. 
Group members can handle conflict in a number of ways depending on the nature of the group.  Productive conflict occurs when group members depend on each other to such an extent that they are acting with a high degree of consolidation.  This group must understand and accept the fact that they are interdependent when they approach a resolution.   Conflict can also occur as a result a caring relationship that members have for one another.  Individuals can have significant creative differences, yet share a deep relationship with the members of the group.  Individuals in this group are willing improve a situation even if the resolution requires a costly emotional response on their part.  Lastly, conflict can arise because members have different needs and values.  These differences produce conflict and group members must control or repress their individual differences and allow the direction of the group to be assigned to someone in authority.
            The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) was introduced to our cohort and is used to assess an individual's behavior in a conflict situation. The TKI describes a person's behavior along two basic dimensions of assertiveness and cooperativeness.  The TKI classifies behavior into five distinct conflict-handling modes.  These are presented as competing, collaborating, compromising, avoiding and accommodating.  This was a very interesting exercise that revealed our individual styles or behavior types when approaching conflict.
            Certainly quality communication and cooperation are critical to quality groups.  Often conflict brings viable options to the table result in a better decision.  Cooperation increases as people participate in the group receive satisfaction from mutually beneficial exchanges.  Improving communication and establishing an environment that promotes the "I win if I help you win" philosophy fosters cooperative exchanges.  The feeling of trust that all other members of the group will provide a "return on investment" of the effort being put forth by an individual member is what ever member should expect.
            My professional experience with being involved with groups and group conflicts supports the concept that conflict that is handled in a positive and professional manner can help strengthen the group.  I also see that the group often has respect for those individuals who are willing to disagree and are able to present their case in a coherent and professional manner.  While the group may not always adopt the opposing views, the process of debating the issues can often strengthen and legitimize the commitment to the original proposal.  In many cases I believe conflict can force the group to employ a broader field of vision around the issue and hand and as a result can rally support around the final decision as being one that has been well vetted.

Group Problem Solving
            Problem solving within the group involves the process of thinking, analyzing thoughts and utilizing those thoughts to formulate possible solutions.  Probing and questioning are used to generate alternate possibilities and promotes the best efforts of the group.  Patton refers to John Dewey's work and identifies five phases of the reflective thought process.  These include the suggestive phase, the problem phase, the hypothesis phase, the elaboration phase and finally the testing phase.  This framework allows for a systematic approach and creates a process by which ideas are developed and solutions evolve.  Patton goes on to reference Schiedel and Crowell analysis of the processes used in the development of ideas in groups and notes the concept that groups tend to advance thoughts on a "reach and test" kind of motion.
            How can groups improve their decision-making and problem solving process?    This is an important topic of discussion and there are several techniques presented that can aid in the process of problem resolution.  One technique that could be used in problem solving is the balance sheet.  Patton refers to Janis and Mann and their presentation of this framework as a means of analyzing alternative solutions to a given issue.  Positive Anticipations and Negative Anticipations are compiled as they relate to possible alternatives to foster vigilant decision making.  This method can also be described as considering and documenting the pros and cons of each specified alternative.  The goal is to compile as many alternatives as possible and gain insight as to possible outcomes that may produce gains or losses.
            Once the balance sheet has been developed, the next step in this process is to role play the decision outcome.  This is done once the group arrives at what appears to be reasonable decision.  The group should consider the consequences of their decision by role playing the people affected by the decision.  This exercise provides a potentially vivid and dramatic representation of the pros and cons and by anticipating emotional and logical personal responses.  A final step that may be used is to obtain decision counseling from an outsider.  This is useful when the group feels that it would benefit from the impartial insight of such an external counselor. 
            Brainstorming is another technique that has been developed to aid in problem solving.  There are basic rules that must be followed when using this technique.  These rules for brainstorming as presented by Alex Osborn are that criticism is ruled out, free-wheeling is welcomed, quality is wanted and combination and improvement are sought.  It is of primary importance to temporarily free group members from inhibition, self-criticism and the criticism of others in order to ensure imagination is not stifled in the process.  It is important that all suggestions be recorded to validate the importance of creative thinking.  A spirit of fun and excitement should exist when brainstorming is employed on problem resolution.
            My feeling on these techniques for problem solving is that they all have their basis is promoting free thinking and operate on the presumption that many alternatives should be proposed and explored to ensure there is a large pool of possible solutions.
I've used the balance sheet approach to problem solving in the past with good success.  Looking at both the pros and cons of a situation has always been a helpful process for me especially when making large decisions.  The role playing aspect of exploring the possible outcomes and their impact on others is something that was very interesting to me and something that I would like to see more of and will suggest to groups that I'm involved with moving forward. 
            Brainstorming exercises are terrific to participate in and it is a process that I would like to experience more often in my own workplace.  I enjoy the freedom that comes with the open and honest exchange of ideas and I enjoy the creative environment that true brainstorming exercises promote.  I've been to a number of training seminars where the facilitator will conduct brainstorming exercises and write the outcomes on large poster-sized paper that end up plastered on the walls for everyone to see.  It is unfortunate that most to the brainstorming sessions I've experienced have been as part of an instructor led session rather than in an actual work setting.  Promoting brainstorming sessions at work is one of the techniques I plan to utilize more often in my work.

            The common thread that I have observed throughout this course is that quality communication is essential in quality decision-making.  This assertion is evident in virtually every aspect of group dynamics that has been presented during the course of our study.  It is quality communication that allows new ideas and fresh perspectives to emerge.  Productive communication leads to productive thought processes that provide insightful proposals for possible solutions to the task at hand.   These insightful proposals can be tested and measured to ensure quality decisions are achieved.   
            There are many factors that impact groups engaged in the decision-making process and a systematic approach to the process is not enough by itself to ensure a quality decision.  The human element and the behavior of the group have a tremendous influence on the results.  Coming to a quality decision goes beyond an analysis of facts alone and must take into account the impact decisions have on real people.  Our Christian perspective mandates that we carefully and respectfully consider the consequences our decisions have on one another.  This includes decisions that we make as individuals as well as decisions that we participate in making as part of a larger group.
            This is my first encounter studying the theories and principals associated with group decision-making.  I find it interesting is that I've participated in decision making groups throughout my life yet have never really examined the elements that make one group more successful than another.  I have learned a great deal about groups and decision-making during the past six weeks.  I've also enjoyed working with my cohort to complete the various exercises.  I intend to take the knowledge that I've gained here and use it in my personal and professional life to become more effective as a member of decision-making groups I am part of in the future.


Patton, B.R., & Downs, T.M. (2003).  Decision-Making Group Interaction Achieving Quality. Boston,MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Critical Thinking in the Quality Group

"Four Steps of Critical Thinking in the Quality Group"
            The Desert Survival Simulation was part of the classroom work that was completed during the Session Two instructional activities.   The class was assembled into two groups and sent into separate areas to complete the task of ranking survival supplies in order of importance to the team.  The scenario was that 15 items, survival supplies, were available to victims of an airplane crash in the middle of the desert.  The task of the group was to come to a conscientious as to how the group would rank these items in order of importance to ensure the survival of the victims of the crash.  The group ranking of these items would then be compared to the opinions of survival experts to evaluate the quality of the group's decisions.
The first step in the four part process of critical thinking is to identify a common problem.   The problem for the group was to come to an agreement on the ranking in order of importance of items on the list.  The goal of the group was established by specific directions provided to the group by the instructor prior to the activity.   This instruction established the common problem for the group.  During the common problem phase, members of our group shared their individual feelings regarding the importance of items on the list.  Prior to starting the group project, we were asked to rank the survival items ourselves.  This provided the basis for allowing individual members of the team to express their unique perspectives, personal needs and opinions. It seemed that members of our five person group felt comfortable sharing their viewpoints in an honest and open manner.   
Once the common problem or task had been agreed upon, the group moved on to analyzing the problem.  This is step two in the process of critical thinking.  During this phase a comparison of "what exists" versus "what is desired" took place.  The condition that existed at the beginning of the exercise was that each member of the group had previously created a ranking of items in order of importance.   Since each list was different, the desired state was to create a single list that we could agree upon and present as a group.  A discussion took place among the members of the group to explore the differing opinions and value that each member placed on each item on the list in an attempt to gain a better understanding of each person's rationale for placing importance on a given item.  This provided common ground for considering possible solutions.  We did not specifically discuss impelling forces or constraining forces as part of our analysis of the task.
Evaluating proposed solutions is the next step in the process.  Our group demonstrated this behavior as we evaluated various suggestions and input from each member.  We accomplished the objectives of choosing the proposals that was most satisfactory to the group and we modeled the behavior of obtaining members' agreement and commitment to the decisions that were made prior to agreeing on a ranking. One of the tactics we employed was to break the list down into five groups of three items each to assist us in ranking the items in order of importance.  This assisted the team in the evaluation of the solutions being presented.  We would agree that each change we made as a group was somehow better that the decision we made individually even if there was a compromise by one or two members regarding the ranking of a particular item. 
Implementing a decision was the final step in the process.  Once we agreed on a solution, ranking of an item, and finalized our decision.  The plan was put into operation when it was presented to the broader group in class and compared to the opinions of the survival experts.   The completion of the exercise and presentation to the instructor and the entire class is evidence that our group succeeded in completing the task it was charged which was to agree on a ranking of the survival items.

What Makes a Quality Group?

 Summary of the "Five Characteristics of a Quality Group"

 "Decision-Making Group Interaction Achieving Quality" discusses important elements of developing quality groups.  These elements are characteristics outlined in the chapter consist of Cohesion, Task, Group Size, Trust and Cooperation and Factors of Diversity.   How well these factors work together to has an impact of the effectiveness of the group in their interaction and problem-solving skills.  The five key characteristics shared by quality groups are outlined below.

Cohesion refers o the concept of attraction of group members to each other.  This can be seen in traits such as the level of teamwork within the group and the morale or spirit that exists among group members.  The concept of cohesion can not be quantified with empirical data and should be examined relative to three related constructs.
The first construct in the evaluation of cohesion is the attraction between individual members of the group.  Members who are attracted to and identify with the group tend to exhibit strong norms of behavior.
The second construct related to the instrumental value of the group.  This refers to the perception that members have regarding the degree to which the individuals feel the group supports their needs.
Risk-taking behaviors that occur in the group completes the three constructs of measuring cohesion.  This construct suggests that a cohesive group exhibits and allows for and supports self-disclosure and expressions of conflict and hostility.  It is presented that the presence of such behavior can lead to a more cohesive group.

            The effectiveness of most groups can be evaluated based on the purpose of the group or the task that is has been organized to perform.  There are four specific types of tasks or work categories described by Steiner in the summary below.
            Additive tasks are described as work where individual contributions have a cumulative effect on the product or output of the group's effort.  An example of an additive task would be snow removal from a parking lot or participation in a fundraising activity for the church.
            Conjunctive tasks refer to work that requires members of the group to rely on each other's performance of similar tasks to achieve success for the group.  Group members can perform no more efficiently than the least efficient member of the group.  An example of this task can be seen in a team of mountain climbers.
            Disjunctive tasks do not depend on a division of labor and the quality of the product is not dependent on the sum to the group's efforts.  In this task, the proficiency of an individual within the group can determine the proficiency of the most skilled member.
            Discretionary tasks refer to work where the input of an individual member may be accepted or rejected and the individual skills of members may be combined in various ways to achieve the goal.  Once a decision to perform a task has been made, a group member or members will be assigned to complete the task.

Group Size
            Quality of interaction and communication participation is impacted by the number of group members.  Size of the group influences the inhibitions or feelings of self-consciousness of group members.  Five person groups report complete satisfaction in the size of the group.  Smaller groups were found to complain that they could not share ideas freely while larger groups reported that the group felt disorderly and given to waste time. 

Trust and Cooperation
            People working within a group to achieve a common goal must rely on and have confidence in the work of one another.  The output depends on the feeling of trust among the members.  When there is confidence that trust between group members will be reciprocated, cooperation will be increased.  Additionally, cooperative behavior is enhanced when the anticipated positive consequences increase in probability compared to negative consequences.  Benefits of trust and cooperation include faster decision making, more effective communication, enhanced productivity and improved interpersonal relationships.  When members cooperate there is there is a greater feeling of security and harmony.  This can be attributed to the absence of competitiveness.

Factors of Diversity
            Diversity of perspectives and opinions contribute to the quality of a group.  Different viewpoints that include experiences for individuals with different cultural, value systems and views enhance the "field of experience" for the group.  This is critical to quality decision making.  Gender is a factor in establishing diversity within a group.  Research shows that men tend to be task oriented while women tend to be more maintenance oriented and express a greater concern for the individual.  Lafferty and Pond conclude that groups of five women working on a survival skills exercise were the most successful groups in terms of accuracy of accomplishment.  Gender is not the only factor in diversity.  Organizational performance is also strongly related to diversity of ethnicity, age and experience.
             In summary, the factors outlined here concerning the evaluation of the effectiveness of quality groups are aspects of groups that should be considered and monitored to increase performance, positive group interactions and the successful achievement of goals.  In addition to the characteristics outlined above, taking time to agree on the procedures of the group prior to engagement enhances success of the group. Validity of information is also important to decisions made by the group.  High quality decisions tend to be fact based and not emotional.  Adaptation is important as each group is unique and will present varying strengths and challenges relative to the factors outlined here.
            I experienced being part of a decision making group where group size was too large and I felt was a waste of time.  As part of this experience, I was asked to participate in an assembly of all the sales and operations managers for my company to discuss ways of improving the customer experience.  The company had assembled nearly 100 employees in a large hotel room and attempted to work on solving issues that were being presented.  My experience was that it seemed difficult for the group to stay on subject and too often degraded into conversations and discussions that were not relevant to the particular topic at hand.  A few members of the group dominated the conversation while some remained silent for the entire time.  This dynamic might have changed over time, but since the duration of the meeting was only a few hours it was not enough time to adequately take everyone's opinions and views into consideration.   It seems to me that smaller breakout groups assigned to resolve specific issues could have produced a better result.