Skip to Main Content

Team Dynamics: Problem-Solving and Decision Making

1. Overview

  • Different stages of team development call for different problem solving methods
  • Problem solving requires the use of a systematic process
  • The appropriate decision making method is determined by the amount of time available for the decision and the impact of the decision
  • Effective decision making requires the use of smart techniques

2. Problem Solving in Team Development Stages

3. General Problem Solving Steps

  1. Defining the problem: phrase problem as probing questions to encourage explorative thinking; make explicit goal statement
  2. Establish criteria for evaluating the solution: identify characteristics of a satisfactory solution; distinguish requirements from desires
  3. Analyzing the problem: discover the root cause and extent of the problem
  4. Considering alternate solutions: brainstorm to generate many ideas before judging any of them
  5. Evaluate alternate solutions: use ranking-weighting matrix; check for issues/disagreement
  6. Deciding on a solution:  choose best answer to the problem from among all possible solutions
  7. Develop action plan: make team assignments with milestones(don’t underestimate time)
  8. Implementing the action plan: check for consistency with requirements identified in step 2
  9. Following up on the solution:  check up on the implementation and make necessary adjustments
  10. Evaluate outcomes and process:  review performance, process, and personal aspects of the solution

4. Decision Making Method Based on Time and Impact

5. Smart Decision Making is Enabled By. . .

  • Modeling an open mind and asking for candid opinions
  • Asking questions to encourage critical thinking and information disclosure such as:
    • What elements would you choose to change?
    • What changes would you make to solve …?  
  • Aligning rewards to team successes to ensure that individuals share what they know
  • Ensuring that team members are aware of relevant roles and unique information required for team success
  • Charging some team members to assume a position that opposes the team’s preference
  • Creating an alternate team that attempts to find errors and weaknesses in the solution
  • Using successive rounds of blind voting interspersed with discussions

6. Additional Readings