Project managers have to deal with different types of people in any activities and it is the role of the project manager to initiate communication to get ideas from his or her team members. Team members suggesting something in related to a particular idea or concept is very much welcome in project management. This is the reason why it is so important to use group creativity techniques.
Group creativity techniques are used to generate ideas within a group of people or stakeholders. There are different activities that project managers can organize to identify ideas for the project to meet the requirements. Below mentioned are the different types of techniques that can enhance the creativity and decision making within the group.
When asked the question about providing ideas for project requirements, no one exactly knows where to start. However if the project manager asks about specific rather than abstract concepts, the team members are much likely to contribute to something that relates to a particular area of requirements. This process is called as 'Group Creativity Technique.'
The critical feature of group creativity technique is that it allows the project manager to collect new ideas and concepts from the team members through initiating proper communication. It's a technique that is used to generate ideas within a group of stakeholders because the stakeholders are the decision makers when it comes to finalizing the deliverables of a product.
The techniques used for enhancing the creativity of the groups:
Brainstorming is a group creativity technique in which members are allowed to generate as many ideas/requirements as possible without criticism. The brainstorming technique does not prioritize the ideas. In this technique, the participants are safe to present their very own creative ideas even though some ideas are unrealistic. During the process, all the generated ideas/requirements are recorded without any assessments. Additionally, a productive brainstorming session triggers one idea from another, enabling the team members to spot the connections between the ideas. It is important to note that this type of synergy is not found during one-to-one sessions.
Nominal group technique is a technique for small group discussion in which ideas and requirements are ranked and prioritized by all the team members of the group after generating the list of requirements. It enhances the brainstorming with a voting process that is used to rank the most useful ideas for further prioritization. This technique prevents domination of a single person over the discussion by allowing the voices of all members to be represented. The Project Manager should ask the team to rate each idea under a particular heading for providing a better result. All the requirements that are generated or chosen should be testable and measurable.
Mind mapping is used through individual sessions with each team member. The project manager then consolidates the ideas into a single map to create a common ground of understanding. A technique that starts with the idea of the project in the middle, and then stakeholders branch out from the central idea and generate more requirements. This process will provide an overview of the project, which will allow the project manager to determine if there is an imbalance in the requirements or whether one set of needs was weighted more heavily than others.
Affinity diagram takes ideas and groups them into categories with similar ideas or requirements. Thus, they are arranged with ideas that they have an “affinity” (similarities) with. It is a technique used to classify a large number of ideas for analysis or review. Affinity diagrams can either be used alone or in conjunction with brainstorming and the nominal group techniques as well.
Multi-criteria decision analysis: When the process of gathering requirements is taking place, the project manager often needs to balance several criteria’s to determine the best set or requirements for a product. Multi-criteria decision analysis identifies the various measures that the project manager will use to evaluate requirements and then assigns a high-level value to each criterion like risk levels, uncertainty, and valuation, to assess and rank many ideas.
Group decision making is a kind of participatory process in which multiple individuals acting collectively, analyze problems or situations, evaluate alternative ways of action, and select alternative solutions. The number of people involved in group decision-making often ranges from two to seven. The individuals in a group may be demographically similar or quite diverse. Decision-making groups may be relatively informal in nature, or formally designated and charged with a specific goal. The process used to arrive at decisions may be unstructured or structured. The nature and composition of groups, their size, demographic makeup, structure, and purpose, all affect their functioning to some degree. The external contingencies faced by groups (time pressure and conflicting goals) impact the development and effectiveness of decision-making groups as well.
In organizations many decisions of consequence are made after some form of group decision-making process is undertaken. However, groups are not the only form of collective work arrangement. Group decision-making should be distinguished from the concepts of teams, teamwork, and self-managed teams. Although the words teams and groups are often used interchangeably, scholars increasingly differentiate between the two. The basis for the distinction seems to be that teams act more collectively and achieve greater synergy of effort.
Below are few specific differences between decision making groups and teams:
The group has a definite leader, but the team has shared leadership roles
Members of a group have individual accountability; the team has both individual and collective accountability.
The group measures effectiveness indirectly, but the team measures performance directly through their collective work product.
The group discusses, decides, and delegates, but the team discusses, decides, and does real work.
Group decision making is a participatory process wherein members of the team collectively analyze problems and look for solutions together. In project management, group decision-making is usually organized by the leader. The members of the group have a collective accountability for the decisions that they have created. The group is also responsible for delegating tasks that have been agreed on by the team.
There are many ways on how group decision-making is established. The group decision-making techniques are an assessment process that presents many alternatives in the form of future actions. This particular technique engages each team member to contribute to the decision-making process.
There are different types of group decision-making techniques and these techniques are used to create, classify as well as prioritize the product requirements. Below are the different methods used in reaching a group decision?
Unanimity: This decision is achieved when everyone in the team agrees on a single action. An example of reaching unanimity is the Delphi technique wherein a selective group of experts answer questionnaires and give feedback on the responses of each round of gathering requirements.
Majority: The decision is obtained from more than 50% of the team members. To avoid a tie, it is important to have an uneven number of participants during the group decision making.
Plurality: Plurality is achieved when the largest block of the group decides when there is no majority during the voting. This is used when there are more than two options being nominated upon.
Dictatorship: Dictatorship is when only one individual – usually the project leader – makes the decision for the entire group.
These types of group decision-making techniques can also be applied to the group creativity techniques in order to identify and determine the product requirements. This term is defined in the 6th edition of the PMBOK.
The processes Group Creativity Techniques and Group Decision-Making Techniques are considered important because of the scope that these methods provide in taking a decision. When an idea is compared and qualified through all these process groups and methods, it is deemed as a valuable requirement. The process helps in filtering out the less important aspects and allows the project manager and his team to concentrate on those aspects which have high-level requirement value particularly. Hence, the processes are given much importance.