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5 Steps to Group Decision Making

Updated on February 26, 2014
Group decision making happens everyday
Group decision making happens everyday | Source

According to Allyn and Bacon's Introducing Group and Team Principles and Practices, there are five steps to group decision making.

Five Steps

1. Assess the present situation.

2. Identify goals.

3. Identify several alternatives.

4. Evaluate the positive and negative consequences of alternatives.

5. Select the alternative (make a decision).

Groups that follow a predictable pattern usually come to “better decisions if the pattern is explicitly identified so that the group can structure its discussion” (Allyn and Bacon 209).

A group will be more effective in decision making if they follow a pattern. As opposed to groups that choose not to follow patterns become disorganized and have poor decision making.


The Methods

We can make a group decision based on the expert information in groups, outside of groups, or averaging individual rankings or ratings, random choice, majority rule, decision by minority and consensus (Allyn and Bacon 211).

Each of these methods has its advantages and disadvantages. Decision making based on an expert opinion may benefit a group when knowledge is needed about new data, accurate information, and facts. Such as, a group’s need for an expert opinion from a predominant researcher in another field.


Rankings or Ratings

Another method, averaging individual rankings or ratings, can be useful to a group in deliberation over a client.

The group can decide on the possible outcomes and then vote to see which receives the highest ratings and chooses that client.

The method of random choice is good for a fast, easy decision, such as a football game where the referee flips a coin to see which team kicks first.

Majority rule is an appropriate method when a group has to decide between certain choices, such as a meeting where a decision is made by the number of those who say yea or nay.

Decisions, Decisions

Decision by minority is the exact opposite of majority rule, and can be expressed as the minority making the decision based on the opinions of the least amount of supporters.

Decision by consensus is appropriate for a group that needs to reach a decision that involves all members support. This method takes a lot of time and discussion, such as in the movie Twelve Angry Men when the jury finally arrives at a consensus after hours of debate.


4 Phases of Group Problem Solving

There are also four phases of group problem solving (Allyn and Bacon 217-219). These include:

1. Orientation: members try to understand one another and the task before their group.

2. Conflict: disagreement and individual difference arise.

3. Emergence: a group begins to manage disagreement and conflict.

4. Reinforcement: group members express positive regard for the group and its members and offer comments that build cohesiveness.

The four phases of group problem solving are not followed in a predictable pattern like the five steps to group decision making.

These problem solving phases are not linear because group communication does not always operate the same way or in a step by step manner (Allyn and Bacon 219).



In the end, these five methods of group decision making can effectively help us reach decisions. While the four phases of problem solving help us to arrive at solutions to the problems we face in a group setting where not only our opinions but the opinions of our peers, colleagues, and members must be valued as well.


  • Allyn and Bacon, Introducing Group and Team Principles and Practices. 2008.


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