Decision Making Methods - Nominal Group Technique




1.0 Introduction 3-4

2.0 Explanation on Nominal Group Technique method 5-6

3.0 Application of Nominal Group Technique method 7-8

4.0 Advantages and Disadvantage of Nominal group technique 9-10

5.0 Summary 11

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1.0) Introduction

Decision making is a necessary leadership skill needed by all. Group decision making is a type of participation method in which many individuals performing together, analyze problems or situations, estimate the courses of action, and select a solution. The number of people participates in group decision-making always different. The individuals in a group may be same or different demographically. Decision-making groups may be normally informal in nature, or formally designated for achieve a specific goals. Unstructured or structured process maybe used to make decisions. The nature and composition of groups, demographic makeup, structure, their size, and purpose will affect their functioning to some level. Time pressure and conflicting goal may impact the improvement and efficiency of group decision-making as well. In organizations many vital decisions are made after some type of group decision-making process implemented. Group decision-making should be formed from the element of teams, teamwork, and self-managed teams. In many situation groups influence their members by creating a single set of beliefs.A strong wisdom of personal character in a group sounds like it could escort to great results. In some cases personal identity been lost and replaced by identification with the goals actions of the group.

There are many methods that can be used by groups such as brainstorming, nominal group technique, Delphi technique, and dialectical inquiry. Each of this designed to improve the decision-making in some way. Brainstorming involves group members verbally telling ideas or choice of action. The brainstorming session is normally unstructured. The situation or problem faced will be explain in as much detail as needed so that group members have a absolute understanding of the issue or problem. In recent years, some decision-making groups got used electronic brainstorming, which can allows the group members to suggest ideas by e-mail or another electronic medium, such as an discussion room or online posting board. Members can constantly offer their ideas secretly. This help increase the probability that individuals will offer more exclusive and creative ideas without any fear of the unkind judgment of others.

Nominal group technique is a planned decision making process. The group members are required to compose a full list of their ideas in writing. Normally the group members record their ideas privately. Once done all group member will ask to provide ideas from their list until all ideas recorded publicly on a marker board. Once every idea is listed publicly, the group do discussion of the listed ideas and will ranking it. Empirical research on the group decision making offers some confirmation that the nominal group technique effective in providing a better number of decision ideas that are reasonably high quality.

Delphi technique method also group decision making process which can be used by decision making group when member are in various locations. This technique was urbanized by the Rand Corporation. Individuals in the Delphi group will be selected base their specific knowledge or expert level of handling the problem on they own. In the Delphi technique, each group member will asked to separately provide input, ideas, and solutions to the decision problem in effective way. They will provide their ideas in a variety of ways, such as fax, e-mail, online discussion room or either electronic bulletin board. After every stage in the process, other group members will ask questions and idea are ranked or rated in some method. After an unclear number of rounds, the Delphi group finally will take a compromise decision on the best course of action.

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Dialectical inquiry is group decision-making techniques that mainly focus on getting full consideration of ideas. Basically, in this technique the group will be dividing into opposing sides. They will argue the advantages and disadvantages of proposed solutions or decisions.

2.0) Explanation on Nominal Group Technique method

The decision making method I have choose is nominal group technique. Nominal group technique is a variation of a small-group discussion fully structured to reach consensus. In nominal group technique information gathered by asking individuals to react to questions asked. The participants need to prioritize the ideas or suggestions given by all group members. This process encourages all group members to participate so will prevents the domination of the discussion by a single person. Nominal group technique also encourages all group members to participate in discussion, and results in a set of prioritized solutions that signify the group’s preferences. This method is best used when some group members think better in silence, some group members are much more verbal than others, when there is anxiety about some members not participating, when all or some group members are new to the team, when the group does not easily generate quantities of ideas, and when the issue is contentious or there is fiery conflict.

There are four steps involving in nominal group technique which is generating ideas, recording ideas, discussing ideas, and voting on ideas. As in first step which are generating ideas, the moderator presents the question or problem to the group in written form and reads the question to the group. The leader will announce to everyone to write ideas in brief statements or phrases. The group member also will ask to work silently and independently. Each person silently generates ideas and writes their ideas down.

The second step is recording ideas. In this step group members hold in a round-robin feedback session to briefly record each idea. In this point no debates involve. The coordinator will writes an idea from a group member on a white board to be visible to all groups, and proceeds to next group to ask another idea and so on. Once a group suggest an idea already, they no need to repeat ideas anymore. However if a group members have an ideas provide different emphasis or variation they can feel free to add it. This step will proceed until all ideas from members been documented.

The third step will be discussing idea. Coordinator will discuss every recorded idea to verify clarity and importance. For each idea, the coordinator will asks, “Are there any questions or comments group about this suggestion or ideas group members?” This part gives an opportunity for all members to express their perceptive of the logic and the relative importance of the ides. The creator of the idea need not feel grateful to explain the ideas and any member of the group can play that role.

The last step will be voting on ideas. Individuals in group will vote privately to rate the ideas. The votes will be counted to identify the ideas with highest rated by the group as a whole. The coordinator will establishes what criteria to be used to prioritize the ideas. To start, each group members will selects the five most important ideas from the group list and writes it on each index card. Afterward, members will ranks the five ideas selected. The rank will be given according the most important will receive a rank of 5, and the least important will receive a rank of 1. After members rank their responses in order of priority the coordinator will collects all the cards from the participants and asks one group member to read the idea and number of points allocated to each one. Same time the coordinator will record and then state the scores on the tally sheet. The ideas with the most highly rated score by the group will be the most chosen group actions or ideas in response to the question posed by the coordinator.

3.0) Application of Nominal Group Technique method

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In my working experience I have used nominal group method to make a decision in my department. I’m working at TNT EXPRESS WORLDWIDE (S) PTE LTD in custom clearance department. Our department itself divided into two which are export and import. I’m in export site. Our main job scope is to declare permit for shipment going out from Singapore to overseas. Our old system called ‘TNT Access’ and use this system to declare shipment. Previously our record is 84% on time declaration but Singapore Custom urge us to achieve 100% on time declaration. In our site also we need to do that because late declaration will cause delay in export shipment which can make customer unhappy with our service. So our department need to make a decision on how to increase efficiency in on time declaration. My manager used nominal group technique method to make a decision.

Our department arrange for discussion meeting and explain to us the situation. First my manager presents the problem to the group in written form and she also read the question to my group members. Afterward we asked to write key ideas silently and independently that we think possible to overcome the problem. Each of us has used our worksheets to list ideas for issue.

After a while she asked for one idea from one member at a time and records the ideas of group members on a flip chart visible to the entire group. To accomplish this as quickly and efficiently she follows round-robin recording means going around the table. One idea has been asked from one member at a time then continues to ask for one idea from the next group member, and so on. She mentioned that this step important because our list of ideas will give a guide for further discussion, help us know the richness of ideas we need to work with, and encourage extra ideas. We also have been informed that if someone else in the group lists an idea which we also had on our worksheet, we need not repeat the idea. If, in our judgment the idea on spreadsheet contains different emphasis or variation, we can suggest the idea because variations on a theme are important and will help us to be creative. Some of the ideas my group suggested are increase man power by recruiting new staff, train data entry staff to input data in system more faster, upgrade our declaration system and so on.

Once the ideas listed we asked to briefly discuss on each idea given. The principle of this conversation is to make clear the meaning of each item on our flip chart. It is also give chance to us express our understanding of the logic behind the idea and the virtual importance of the ides. We asked to feel free to express different points of view or to disagree and the creator of the idea no need to feel obliged to clarify or explain on it. Any member of my group can do this role.

When everyone done with discussing all the ideas each group member required to made judgment relating to the most important ideas on the list. We had given five index cards needed to select the five most important ideas from our list given. We get instruction to write the number of the ideas in the upper left-hand corner of the card. Let say, if feel idea 13 is very important we need to write 13 in the upper left-hand corner. At this time, my manager also writes 13 in the upper left-hand corner of the card she has drawn on the flip chart. Then, we need to write the identifying expression on the card. At this point, my manager writes the phrase for Item 13 on the card she has drawn. We do this for all of the five most important ideas from our total list. When have completed this task, we should have five cards in hand, each with a separate phrase written on the card with recognise numbers using the numbering system from our list of ideas on the flip chart. After each member of the group has selected five ideas and write it on separate cards, my manager asked us spread out our cards in front of us so we can see all five at once. She asks us to decide and ranked the card from most important to less important. We follow according the most important given a ranked of 5, the next important card ranked 4 and so on until the less important are given a rank of 1. My manager then gets all of the cards from all participants and placed into one large pile and shuffles it. She then asks one of the group member to read loudly the idea number and number of points from every index card while the records the scores on the tally sheet. Lastly she adds the scores for each of the ideas to categorize those ideas with most highly scored by the group as a entire. These form the most favoured group decision for dealing with the problem which was the focus of the discussion. The ideas that get highest score in our decision making process is to upgrade our declaration system. This decision currently gives good impact to my department as we implement the idea. The declaration page has been upgraded to Advanced Export Declaration. Using this system we successfully achieve 98% on time declaration.

4.0) Advantages and Disadvantage of Nominal group technique

Nominal group technique is obviously most effective method in group decision making method. There are many advantages on this method. This method can generate a greater number of ideas. It encourages participants to deal with issues through positive problem solving because allows the group to share ideas democratically. Every group members encourage to contributing and this prevents people from dominating the discussion which allows everyone's opinions to be heard and judged equally. Some of the obvious advantages are that voting is anonymous, there are opportunities for equal contribution of group members and distractions (communication "noise") inherent in other group methods are minimized. This because no verbal interaction is involve, and less opportunity for powerful individuals to control the group. Since no verbal interaction also permitted while all scope of a problem are being acknowledged there will be no appraisal made at this time and hence there will be a freer climate. Since each individual must recognize dimensions on own, aspects which never would have been measured are more likely to be measured. In a normal discussion group some group members prefer to impound their contribution to reacting to the ideas of others. In the nominal group, equal participation issues provide greater wideness of ideas. Strong technique for preventing conformity to group pressure (adapted from CDC 2006; RECREATION AND TOURISM RESEARCH INSTITUTE 2007; WBI EVALUATION GROUP 2007)

Disadvantage of this method is it requires some advance preparation, which means that it cannot be a take place with spontaneous technique. Nominal group technique mean to be single-topic meeting, limited to a single-purpose and it is very difficult to modify topics in the middle of the meeting. This method also needs agreement and satisfaction from all group members to use the same structured method, which some people might feel resist. It’s important for the all group member that they able to read and write, which should not be granted all of the members have the ability and such conditions can provide evidence of dangerous and threatening to the outcome of the activity.Group members also have to available for the required time which can difficultly but must be attempted. As to disadvantages, opinions may not meet in the voting process, ideas may be forced, and the process may emerge to be too mechanical. Even though nominal group technique can be used in variety of group sizes but it is very hard to apply it successfully with large groups unless very carefully planned earlier. Nominal group technique method only best used in a single-purpose, single-topic meeting. Good ideas can be voted out because its potential cannot be developed further. Small groups limit participation and are pre-selected. (Adapted from RECREATION AND TOURISM RESEARCH INSTITUTE 2007; WBI EVALUATION GROUP 2007)

5.0) Summary

I choose nominal group technique method because it has the potential to reduce the scale of group problems because it embodies those characteristics that are necessary for that goal to be accomplished. It provides a balanced participation in decision making. There is no evaluation during the process and hence the climate will not be a threatening other when presenting their ideas. The group is not endorsed to stay on the most obvious aspect make variety of suggestions is usually approaching in this method. Lastly by using this method in combination with the problem-solving steps, the nominal group technique will result in greater group output as well as more fulfilment to the participants.

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