Using Word Processing as Part of Your Group Decision-Making

Article excerpt

Using Word Processing as Part of Your Group Decision-Making

As a manager, you are increasingly being involved in decision-making about equipment purchases, methods of productivity improvement, new policies and procedures, and the like. Assume you are selected to lead one of these problem-solving, decision-making groups. Assume, also, that your management wants a written report of your findings. To complete this type of assignment, you might want to follow this seven-step procedure for quickly producing superior-quality reports that reflect group consensus. It takes advantage of the word processing capability most offices now have, and with the procedure outlined here, the only staff support that will be needed will be help with photocopying and distributing the report.

Step 1. Word process a memo to the other members of the task force or committee, notifying them of what output management expects from the group and the date of the first meeting of the group. Send along the necessary documentation so the group members can carefully study the issue beforehand.

Step 2. During the first meeting, discuss thoroughly the alternatives facing the group and the supporting facts. Encourage widespread participation by maintaining a listening posture and being supportive of all ideas. Describe the decision-making procedure to be used (the one described here). Announce that unless the issues take much longer to explore than predicted, most of the heavy decision making will be completed at the next meeting.

Step 3. At this second meeting, you act as both the group leader and record keeper. The advantages and disadvantages of each alternative are explored in thorough detail. Toward the conclusion of the meeting, you summarize what you have heard the group members say. Identifying who said what is unnecessary in this type of group decision-making.

Step 4. The most difficult part of the job now occurs, but the task can be lightened with the aid of word processing equipment. Prepare a report on vendor selection (or whatever the group decision was about) that incorporates the opinions of all the group's members, including your own. In preparing the report, use double spacing and wide margins all around. Next, distribute your report to the group members, instructing them to jot down on the report itself all their recommended changes. This task should take about 15 minutes of each group member's time. Your team will relish the chance to edit somebody else's work; we have yet to hear anybody complain about having to make suggestions for revising somebody else's report. …