Chapter 8 >>This chapter provided both theoretical  and practical information about small group problem solving. The  chapter is designed to get us to thin

Chapter 8 >>This chapter provided both theoretical  and practical information about small group problem solving. The  chapter is designed to get us to think about what should happen for a  group to solve problems effectively, and what they can do to help ensure  that what should happen does happen. The focus of this chapter is to  recognize that individual actions and group norms contribute to  effective and ineffective decisions. Ultimately, systematic procedures  that reinforce good individual behaviors and positive group norms will  produce better decisions.
>>With that said, think about what we  learned throughout this chapter and apply it to the following case  study. With this case study, please justify your choices and think about  the difficulties you might encounter if you were to make this  discussion with a group of advisors.  Provide rationale for your choice  as well as breaking down the potential benefits as well as problems of  solving this on your own versus solving it in a group. 

“The Mayor’s Public Relations Dilemma”
The mayor of a large Midwestern city  appoints all members of city commissions, which must then be approved by  the city council. A few months after being appointed, one appointee was  charged and subsequently convicted of having taken a bribe to vote for  giving a very lucrative contract to a particular bidder. Now the mayor  is running for reelection. The mayor’s opponent has used the case of the  bribe‑taking commissioner to accuse the mayor of having run a corrupt  administration. What action seems most appropriate to winning  re­election?

Place the blame on the city council for approving the appointment.
Ignore the charge, but do point out that the mayor has appointed many commissioners who have been accused of no wrongdoing.
Publicly declare that the mayor thought the appointee was honorable.
Do nothing; to respond will only give more credence to a rather unsubstantiated charge.
Point out that the mayor started the investigation that led to conviction of the corrupt commissioner.
Or what? Group Problem-solving Procedures
Chapter 8
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Preview
A systematic Procedure as the Basis for Problem Solving
Capturing the Problem in Problem Solving
Effective problem Solving and Decision Making
Applications of P-MOPS
Copyright © 2015 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Solving Problems in Groups versus Individuals

Advantages Disadvantages

Solutions for complex problems are usually superior Groups take more time

Groups have more resources Participation may be uneven

Members accept solutions more readily Interpersonal tension may interfere with critical thinking

Members understand the solution more completely

Table 8.1 Page 195
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A Systematic Procedure as the Basis for Problem Solving
There are numerous ways to solve problems
A process is used for all of these methods
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How do we know a problem when we see one?
Problem defined: The difference between what exists presently and what you expect or want
Every problem situation has three major components:
An undesirable existing situation
Desired situation or goal
Obstacles to change

4

Capturing the Problem in Problem Solving
How do we know a problem when we see one?
Problem refers to the difference between what exists presently and what you want
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How do we know a problem when we see one?
Problem defined: The difference between what exists presently and what you expect or want
Every problem situation has three major components:
An undesirable existing situation
Desired situation or goal
Obstacles to change

5

Capturing the Problem in Problem Solving
Every problem has three components
Undesirable existing situation
Desired situation
Obstacles to change
The area of freedom is the amount of authority and limitations given to a group when solving a problem
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Area of Freedom
Area of freedom defined: The amount of authority and limitations given to a group

6

Capturing the Problem in Problem Solving
Problems can be classified by their characteristics:
Task difficulty – how complex is the issue?
Solution Multiplicity – are there many solutions?
Intrinsic Interests – are group members interested in solving?
Member Familiarity – has the group confronted a similar problem?
Acceptance Level – is solution acceptance critical?
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Characteristics of Problems
Task difficulty is the complexity of the problem
Solution multiplicity is the possible ways to solve the problem
Intrinsic interests are the group members’ interest in solving the problem
Member familiarity is the group members’ knowledge of the problem
Acceptance level is the degree to which the solution must be accepted by the people affected by the problem

7

Capturing the Problem in Problem Solving
Groups must understand the discussion question, which is the central question of the policy facing the group
These guidelines help phrase a discussion question:
Avoid either-or questions
Word questions as concretely as possible
Avoid suggesting the answer in the question
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Identification of the problem depends on the extent to which group members understand the fundamental elements of the problem
A variety of “other issues” can take the group off track
Discussion Question defined: the central question of the policy facing the group
Steps to ensure the discussion question is clear:
Avoid either-or questions
Word questions as concretely as possible
Avoid suggesting the answer in a question

8

Effective Problem Solving and Decision Making
Problem solving includes all those actions you have to do to move from the existing situation to your goal
Decision making is the act of selecting among one or more available options
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Effective Problem Solving and Decision Making
Communication helps or hinders group problem solving and decision making, this is called the functional theory
Effective problem solving depends on:
Task requirements
Efficacy of communication
Willingness to review
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Functional theory defined: A theory of how communication helps or hinders group problem solving and decision making
Three factors impacting the conditions needed for effective problem solving
Task requirements
Effective communication
Willingness to review and reconsider group processes

10

Effective Problem Solving and Decision Making
The procedural model of problem solving (PMOPS) is a flexible framework to guide each phase of the problem-solving process
Analyze
Generate
Evaluate
Choose
Implement
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The Procedural Model of Problem Solving (P-MOPS)
Procedural Model of Problem Solving defined: A flexible framework to guide each phase of the problem-solving process
The five steps in this general problem-solving procedure are:
Describing and analyzing the problem
Be sure you understand the charge precisely
Charge defined: The group’s assignment
State the problem as a single, clear problem question
Focus on the problem before discussing how to solve it
Describe the problem thoroughly
Make an outline and a schedule based on the Procedural Model of Problem Solving
Summarize the problem as a group
Spotlighting Key Issues with Focus Groups
Focus group defined: An unstructured technique in which members freely explore thoughts and feelings about a topic

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Effective Problem Solving and Decision Making
Step One: Describing and Analyzing the Problem
Understand the group’s assignment, charge
State the problem as a single question
Focus on the problem before solutions
Describe problem thoroughly
Make an outline and schedule based on PMOPS
Summarize the problem
Focus groups can help in this process
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12

Effective Problem Solving and Decision Making
Step Two: Generate and Explain Possible Solutions
Focus on creatively finding solutions
No criticism is allowed in this step

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Generating and explaining possible solutions
Avoid “group communication flaw,” which occurs when groups hinder their ability to make good decisions by closing down their problem solving discussion
Be an active participant observer discussed in chapter one

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Effective Problem Solving and Decision Making
Step Three: Evaluating all Possible Solutions
Establish criteria, which are the standards and guidelines by which your group will evaluate ideas
Narrow a list of solutions
Chart pros and cons
Use technology to help communicate preferences
Group Support Systems (GSS) are computer-based systems designed to improve various aspects of group work
Studies have shown that members are equally satisfied with decisions reached using this method
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Evaluating all solutions
Criteria for Evaluating Solutions are helpful to set standards that any solution must meet, which facilitates narrowing
Criteria defined: Standards and guidelines used to evaluate ideas and solutions
Narrowing a Long List of Proposed Solutions
Three useful techniques include:
Combine any ideas that are similar or overlapping
Allow each member (including the leader) to vote for his or her top three choices
Give each member five small cards on which to write the number or name of his or her five preferred solutions, then the group discusses the pros and cons of only the proposed solutions with the highest ratings
Charting the Pros and Cons

Using Technology to Help Problem Solving
Group Support Systems (GSS) defined: Computer-based system designed to improve various aspects of group work
These types of software can be as good as traditional group decision making
Some tasks lend themselves better to face-to-face meetings and some tasks lend themselves well to GSS, don’t make overarching conclusions of effectiveness
An important key factor of success depends on user familiarity

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Effective Problem Solving and Decision Making
Step Four: Choosing the Best Solution
A group can make a decision in many different ways
Decision by the leader
Consultative method
Voting
Consensus, which is a decision all members agree is the best they can all support but isn’t necessarily everyone’s first choice
The RISK technique is used to help groups assess potential problems or risks with a solution
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Groups go through predictable stages of decision making
Orientation stage is the group exploring the problem
Conflict phase is the group arguing about various options
Decision emergence is when the group gradually moves toward consensus
Reinforcement refers to the complimenting that members give each other after a job well done
Methods of making decisions
a. Decision is made by the group leader or designated member
b. The Consultative method
c. Voting
d. Consensus defined: A decision all members agree is the best they can all support but isn’t necessarily everyone’s first choice
Testing a Tentative Solution with the RISK Technique
RISK technique defined: A technique to help a group assess potential problems or risks with a potential solution
Steps to RISK:
Proposed solution presented in detail; members identify risks or problems with it
Risks posted without evaluation on a chart in round-robin fashion
Master list of risks compiled and circulated to all participants
Second meeting held to discuss the list; problems perceived as serious retained
Retained problems processed into an agenda and handled as in the problem census

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Effective Problem Solving and Decision Making
Step Five: Implementing the Chosen Solution
Who will do what, when, and how?
How will we write the report?
How will we word our motion?
What follow-up should we conduct?
PERT is a set of concrete suggestions to help the group keep track of who will do what and by when
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PERT defined: Program Evaluation and Review Technique that helps group members manage and keep track of a complex task

During this stage the group answers the following questions:
Who will do what, when, and how so that our decision is enacted?
How will we write and present our report?
How will we word our motion to the membership meeting, and who will speak in support of it?
What follow-up should we conduct to monitor how well this solution is working?
Using PERT to Implement a Solution is helpful for groups to track implementation
PERT defined: Program Evaluation and Review Technique that helps group members manage and keep track of a complex task
Following are the main points:
Determine the final step by describing how the solution should appear when it is fully implemented
List all the events that must occur before the final goal is realized
Order these steps chronologically
For complicated solutions, develop a flow diagram of the procedure and all the steps in it
Generate a list of all the activities, materials, and people needed to accomplish each step
Estimate the time needed to accomplish each step; then add all the estimates to find the total time needed for implementation of the plan
Compare the total time estimate with deadlines or expectations and correct as necessary by assigning more or less time and people to complete a given step
Determine which members will be responsible for each step

16

Summary
A systematic Procedure as the Basis for Problem Solving
Capturing the Problem in Problem Solving
Effective problem Solving and Decision Making
Copyright © 2015 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education.

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