The features anonymity and idea viewing along with parallel input that keeps people from waiting for others help to reduce the screening effects of each of the three stages of the compatibility test (see Fig. 10.2.). This effect seems most clear at stage 2 in which group members are consciously screening ideas based on their own images as well as their perceptions of the groups' images. Because their idea entry is anonymous, they begin to put in ideas compatible with their own image, but perhaps incompatible with the groups' images. They do not have the same peer pressure to conform as in the verbal meeting. Then they view other group members' ideas that have been entered with a similar relaxation of constraints, and they expand their perception of what is compatible with the group. This relaxation of constraints and freedom of expression, then, seems to reduce the effects of stage 1 of the compatibility test. Finally, the effects of stage 3, the group compatibility test, are reduced because, unlike the experience in verbal meetings, ideas can be considered on their own merit and not criticized because of the feelings for the person who presented them or because of an emotional overreaction. Furthermore, a single person has less ability to criticize the idea and shelve further discussion because the idea is recorded and shared on all participants' screens.
It seems that the EBS process allows people to broaden their views of what is acceptable and frees them to be creative. One may not have expected the computer to be so useful in helping people communicate, but the energy developed in the GSS facility demonstrates how old notions of a computers place should be revised.
GSS groups have been proven very effective at producing ideas and, in fact, produce more ideas than would be expected from the use of parallel input alone. Some interaction between anonymity and viewing others ideas seems to create a synergy not found in any other method of brainstorming.
When considering the benefits of a unified culture and the efficiencies of screening, the costs should not be ignored. It is easy to see why organizations foster cultures that will keep large and dispersed work forces making decisions efficiently and effectively. However, these consistent decisions may not be adequate in the face of a changed environment.
Unified cultures are useful for organizations wishing to improve the consistency of decision makers. However, that same culture can reduce an organization's ability to adapt to a changing environment and generate