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Chapter 9

Solving Problems
in Groups
Understanding Human Communication, Tenth Edition, Adler/Rodman
Copyright 2009 by Oxford University Press, Inc.

Solving Problems in Groups

PROBLEM SOLVING IN GROUPS:


WHEN AND WHY
Understanding Human Communication, Tenth Edition, Adler/Rodman
Copyright 2009 by Oxford University Press, Inc.

Advantages of
Group Problem-Solving
Resources
Accuracy
Commitment

Understanding Human Communication, Tenth Edition, Adler/Rodman


Copyright 2009 by Oxford University Press, Inc.

When to Use Groups


for Problem Solving

Is the job beyond the capacity of one person?


Are individuals tasks interdependent?
Is there more than one decision or solution?
Is there potential for disagreement?

Understanding Human Communication, Tenth Edition, Adler/Rodman


Copyright 2009 by Oxford University Press, Inc.

Some Communication Factors Associated


with Group Productivity

Understanding Human Communication, Tenth Edition, Adler/Rodman


Copyright 2009 by Oxford University Press, Inc.

Group Problem-Solving Formats

Buzz groups
Problem census
Focus group
Parliamentary procedure
Panel discussion
Symposium
Forum
Understanding Human Communication, Tenth Edition, Adler/Rodman
Copyright 2009 by Oxford University Press, Inc.

Computer-Mediated Groups

Teleconferencing
Computer conferencing
Chat room
Asynchronous discussions
What are advantages to computer-mediated
meetings? Disadvantages?
Why do groups working at a distance take more
time to reach decisions?
Online meetings shouldnt replace, but rather
supplement
Understanding Human Communication, Tenth Edition, Adler/Rodman
Copyright 2009 by Oxford University Press, Inc.

Solving Problems in Groups

APPROACHES AND STAGES IN


PROBLEM SOLVING
Understanding Human Communication, Tenth Edition, Adler/Rodman
Copyright 2009 by Oxford University Press, Inc.

A Structured
Problem-Solving Approach
1.

2.

3.

Identify the problem

What are the groups goals?

What are individual members


goals?
Analyze the problem

Word the problem as a broad,


open question

Gather relevant information

Identify supporting and restraining


forces
Develop creative solutions through
brainstorming/nominal group technique

Avoid criticism

Encourage freewheeling ideas

Develop a large number of ideas

Combine two or more individual


ideas

4.

5.

6.

Evaluate the solutions by asking which


solution

Will best produce changes

Is most achievable

Contains the fewest serious


disadvantages
Implement the plan

Identify specific tasks

Determine necessary resources

Define individual responsibilities

Provide for emergencies


Follow up on the solution

Meet to evaluate progress

Revise approach as necessary

Understanding Human Communication, Tenth Edition, Adler/Rodman


Copyright 2009 by Oxford University Press, Inc.

Developmental Stages in
Problem-Solving Groups

Orientation stage
Conflict stage
Emergence stage
Reinforcement stage

Understanding Human Communication, Tenth Edition, Adler/Rodman


Copyright 2009 by Oxford University Press, Inc.

Developmental Stages in
Problem-Solving Groups

Understanding Human Communication, Tenth Edition, Adler/Rodman


Copyright 2009 by Oxford University Press, Inc.

Solving Problems in Groups

MAINTAINING POSITIVE
RELATIONSHIPS
Understanding Human Communication, Tenth Edition, Adler/Rodman
Copyright 2009 by Oxford University Press, Inc.

Basic Skills

Mutual respect
Listening
Win-win problem solving
Consensus

Cohesiveness

Shared or compatible goals


Progress toward goals
Shared norms and values
Lack of perceived threat
between members
Interdependence of members
Threat from outside the
group
Mutual attraction and
friendship
Shared group experiences

Understanding Human Communication, Tenth Edition, Adler/Rodman


Copyright 2009 by Oxford University Press, Inc.

Overcoming Dangers in
Group Discussion
Information underload and overload
Unequal participation
Pressure to conform
Groupthink

Understanding Human Communication, Tenth Edition, Adler/Rodman


Copyright 2009 by Oxford University Press, Inc.

Adapting Problem-Solving Methods to


Special Circumstances

Understanding Human Communication, Tenth Edition, Adler/Rodman


Copyright 2009 by Oxford University Press, Inc.