August 17, 2004

CLOSING THAT WHICH SHOULD BE OPENED:

Perplexing Problem? Borrow Some Brains: You're smart but not that smart! Teams often defer to their best decision maker, but more is better than less when it comes to brain power. (Robert B. Cialdini, Harvard Management Communication Letter)

Group consultation has long been lauded as the best process for problem solving in organizations because it results in a wider range of solutions than most individuals can design on their own. Now there’s a new study, from psychologist Patrick Laughlin and his colleagues at the University of Illinois, that shows that the approaches and outcomes of cooperating groups are not just better than those of the average group member, but are better than even the group’s best problem solver functioning alone.

These findings underscore the importance of communication in problem solving and have important implications for managers and anyone else who works as part of a team. Far too often, a leader—who, by virtue of greater experience or wisdom or skill, is deemed the ablest problem solver in a group—fails to ask for input from team members. Equally dangerous, members of a team often relinquish problem-solving responsibilities to the leader and fail to provide her with important information for moving forward on a decision.

The consequences of this vicious circle? Suboptimal solutions, bad choices, wrong directions, and avoidable errors.


So what does the 9-11 Commission propose?: centralizing intelligence even further and feeding it all through one person.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 17, 2004 11:12 PM
Comments

Hmmm. That would explain a lot about Reagan.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at August 18, 2004 1:58 PM
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