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Organizational Consultation XXII: Empowerment (Part Two)

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The Art of Decision-Making

Effective team empowerment also includes the introduction of new knowledge and skills with specific regard to the complex processes of decision-making. Effective communications, conflict-management and problem solving sets the stage for the most challenging of all group functions: the art of decision-making. Once a team is effective in making decisions then it can be truly identified as “empowered.” Yet, as both Blanchard and Scott and Jaffe note, this is not an easy stage of group development. Unfortunately, the meetings in most organizations have never been noted for efficiency of decision-making procedures. Numerous committees, with shifting memberships and often vaguely defined areas of responsibility, meet seemingly endlessly; decisions appear somehow to be made, either to be overturned by other committees or to be re-decided all over again at subsequent meetings.

Three models of decision-making are offered in this section in order to provide some guidance in fully appreciating the complex and difficult arena of group decision-making. The first of these models is based on a belief that consensus decision-making is of value in any group setting. The second model concerns the three different levels at which groups work when they are making decisions, while the third model concerns different types of decisions that are made by groups.

Consensus Decision-Making

In a group decision-making situation, two major concerns are present. First, there is the concern for the adequacy of the decision to be made. Second, there is a concern about degree of commitment once the decision is made. “How good is this decision?” “How many members of this group are behind this decision?” These are the two basic concerns of an effective decision-making group. Moreover, the degree of emphasis that an individual or a group gives to the issues of adequacy and commitment can effectively describe their orientation toward decision-making and toward the kind of decisions they are likely to reach.

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