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SP 215 Small Group Communication Structured and Creative Problem Solving in Groups. Problem Solving -A process in which groups analyze a problem and develop a plan of action for solving the problem or reducing its harmful effects. Decision Making
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When all group members agree to support a group decision
When a single person or someone outside the group makes the final decision, with or without recommendations from the group
Voting works best when:
B. Question of Conjecture Will it happen?
C. Question of Value Is it right, moral, good?
D. Question of Policy What should be done?
___ Should the U.S. provide healthcare for all citizens?
___ How many Americans lack health insurance?
___ Will stem cell research help cure diseases?
___ Is the Canadian health care system better than the U.S. system?Match the Decision-Making Questions
“Should the company assist employees with their child care needs?” This group discussion question asks a question of
Benefits of Structured Procedures
Searches, separates, and connects thoughts from many sources, while limiting judgment
___ Unusual ideas are generated and discussed.
___ Imaginative ideas percolate and recombine in new ways.
___ The “Aha!” moment occurs and a new solution emerges.
___ Members gather information and analyze the problem.Identify the Creative Process Stages
The Standard Agenda
Focuses on a single question that, if carefully analyzed and responsibly answered, should provide a solution
Brainstorming . . .
All of the following are guidelines for effective brainstorming EXCEPT:
Developed to maximize participation while minimizing interpersonal problems associated with group interaction
Use DOT when the group . . .
B. Encourage innovation
C. Ask “What If?”
D. Use metaphors
__ Minimizes negative responses to new ideas
__ Encourages members to think outside the box
__ Discourages preconceived notions about what can and can’t be done
__ Forces group members to look at a problem in new and creative waysWays to Enhance Group Creativity
We discussed decision making and problem solving before however, there are some factors to consider.
Information is the raw material of the group decision making and problem solving.
Information overload occurs when the rate of information flow into a system and/or the complexity of that information exceeds the system’s capacity.
1) Impairs critical thinking – Separating the wheat from the chaff.
Vast amounts of information makes it difficult to distinguish useless from useful information.
2) Indecisiveness – Conclusion Irresolution.
Too much information can promote indecisiveness.
3) Information Bulimia – Binging and Purging.
Information Bulimia is a binge and purge cycle of information processing.
Ex: Students who cram facts for an exam.
4) Group Attention Deficit Disorder – Difficulty Concentrating.
Information overload can produce a kind of group attention deficit disorder (ADD).
The megamountains of information competing for group members’ attention makes focusing on any one idea, concept, or problem extremely difficult.
1) Screen information – limit exposure to information.
2) Shutting off technology – turn off cell phones, pagers, and so on.
3) Specializing – knowing more about a little than knowing little about a lot.
Ex: Don’t try to feed us the entire pie, give us as slice.
Know a lot about a little.
4) Becoming Selective – attend to information that relates directly to group goals and priorities.
5) Limiting the Search – set time for searching and time for deciding.
6) Narrowing the Search – use credible databases; find patterns.
Information overload is more prevalent and a significant problem than information underload.
Information underload refers to an insufficient amount of information available to a group for decision making purposes.
Information underload is usually a problem of too much closedness in a system.
Develop perceptual mindsets: the group members’ all seeing the world in the same way.
Conclusions made about the unknown based upon what is known – group members draw inferences from previous experiences, factual data, and predispositions.
In other words, members rely on their own knowledge base.
1) General sources of inferential errors:
Seriously limited information base (insufficient quantity of information).
Faulty information base (poor-quality information)
2) Specific sources of inferential errors:
Vividness – the graphic, outrageous, shocking, controversial, dramatic event draws our attention and sticks in our minds (i.e., NEWS Stories).
Unrepresentativeness – distorting the facts (ex: pit bull dogs being mean).
Correlation – X causes Y (Pos/Neg, as you get older, your skin wrinkles).
Definition: A mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members striving for uniformity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.
In other words, loss of objectivity within the groups decision making process.
1) Overestimation of the group’s power and morality – arrogance.
Illusion of invulnerability.
Unquestioned belief in the inherent morality of the group.
Negative stereotyped views of the enemy.
3) Pressures toward Uniformity – presenting a united front.
Self-censorship of contradictory opinion.
Illusions of unanimity.
Direct pressure applied to deviants.
Recognize groupthink when it first begins.
Minimize statues differences
Seek information that challenges emerging concurrences.
Develop norms that legitimizes disagreement.
John Dewey’s Problem Solving Sequence.
Eight (8) Steps
Step 1: Define the Problem.
This step includes defining exactly what the problem is.
What are the symptoms which lead group to become aware of the problem.
Defining the problem is very important in arriving at solutions that will help solve the problem.
If you don’t know or understand the problem, it will difficult to solve the problem.
An improperly defined problem may result in a solution which may bring some change but not in the area the group hoped would change.
Word the problem correctly.
Step 2: List the causes of the problem.
This step is very complex at times but is critical to help solve for the problem.
The group must attempt to discover ALL apparent causes for the problem.
Understand that it is impossible to do away with all the causes to solve for the problem but it is still important to know to what extent each cause contributes to the problem and which causes can be solved.
Sometime large problems need to be broken down into smaller parts with each part analyzed and solved separately.
Step 3: Criteria for picking a solution.
The groups main goal in problem solving is to think of a solution to help solve for your problem.
In order to pick the best possible solution to solve the problem, the group needs to develop a criteria for choosing the best solution.
The criteria will be the yardstick by which the group can measure the various possible solutions to see which solution “BEST” fits the current situation.
The criteria for selecting the best solution for the problem is vital and MUST be done before solutions can be considered.
Some general considered criteria are:
The solution must be financially $ feasible
The solution must be legal.
The solution must do away with certain causes.
The solution must be moral.
These criterions are general, the group may have more specific ones for solving the problem.
Step 4: List all possible solutions.
List every possible solution the group develops or thinks of.
Don’t exclude possible solutions simply because they may not sound good at the time.
This step is simply the listing of possible solutions with no consideration whether they will or will not work.
The more solutions the group has the better.
Step 5: Picking of the best solution.
Picking the best solutions is done by comparing various possible solutions against one another.
List out the criteria the group has developed and check to see which solution best fits the criteria.
Some times there may be more than one solution to help solve for the problem.
Incorporate the solutions to work in concert with one another.
Step 6: Implementing the solution.
How is the group going to implement the solution(s)?
Why hasn’t this been implemented before?
When would the implementation occur?
Threshold – at what point in time?
Step 7: The benefits
List the benefits that come as a result of helping to solve the problem.
What do we get out of solving the problem?
Step 8: Evaluating the success/failure of the
The evaluation takes place through the process of the project. The objectives of the project are feasible, dated, measurable, and indicate an acceptable level of achievement.
Nothing could be easier to evaluate.
Bottom Line: Either you did it or you didn’t.
Group work time