Group decision support systems provide structure and aid teams in managing the ideas from all members. Some of the key tools incorporated in such a system are: electronic questionnair
Group decision support systems provide structure and aid teams in managing the ideas from all members. Some of the key tools incorporated in such a system are: electronic questionnaires, electronic brainstorming tools, idea organizers, tools for setting priorities, and policy formation.
> Research the tools currently available and select one for "each" category.
> In your own words, present a scenario in which it could be used and your case for why this tool is the appropriate choice.
Need 3 pages with peer-reviewed citations. No introduction or conclusion required.
11 C H A P T E R
I n this chapter, we present several topics related to group decision support and col- laboration. People work together, and groups (or teams) make many of the complex decisions in organizations. The increase in organizational decision-making complex-
ity drives the need for meetings and group work. Supporting group work in which team members may be in different locations and working at different times emphasizes the important aspects of communications, computer-mediated collaboration, and workplace methodologies. Group support is a critical aspect of decision support systems (DSS). Effective computer-supported group support systems have evolved to increase gains and decrease losses in task performance and underlying processes. New tools and methodol- ogy are used to support teamwork. These include collective intelligence, crowdsourcing, and different types of AI. Finally, human–machine and machine–machine collaboration
■■ Understand the basic concepts and processes of group work, communication, and collaboration
■■ Describe how computer systems facilitate team communication and collaboration in an enterprise
■■ Explain the concepts and importance of the time/ place framework
■■ Explain the underlying principles and capabilities of groupware, such as group support systems (GSS)
■■ Understand how the Web enables collaborative computing and group support of virtual meetings
■■ Describe collective intelligence and its role in decision making
■■ Define crowdsourcing and explain how it supports decision making and problem solving
■■ Describe the role of AI in supporting collaboration, group work, and decision making
■■ Describe human–machine collaboration ■■ Explain how teams of robots work
Group Decision Making, Collaborative Systems, and AI Support
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are increasing the power of collaboration and problem solving. All these are presented in the following sections:
11.1 Opening Vignette: Hendrick Motorsport Excels with Collaboration Teams 647
11.2 Making Decisions in Groups: Characteristics, Processes, Benefits, and Dysfunctions 649
11.3 Supporting Group Work and Team Collaboration with Computerized Systems 652
11.4 Electronic Support to Group Communication and Collaboration 655
11.5 Direct Computerized Support for Group Decision Making 659
11.6 Collective Intelligence and Collaborative Intelligence 665
11.7 Crowdsourcing as a Method for Decision Support 669
11.8 Artificial Intelligence and Swarm AI Support of Team Collaboration and Group Decision Making 672
11.9 Human–Machine Collaboration and Teams of Robots 676
11.1 OPENING VIGNETTE: Hendrick Motorsports Excels with Collaborative Teams
Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) is a leading car racing company (with more than 500 employees) that competes in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. HMS’s major objective is to win as many races as possible each year. The company enters four race cars and their teams. HMS also builds its race cars. This includes building or rebuilding 550 car engines every year. In this kind of business, teamwork is critical because many different people with different skills and knowledge and several professional teams contribute to the success of the company.
HMS is engaged in car races all over the United States during the racing season (38 weeks a year). The company moves to a different racetrack every week. During the off-season time (14 weeks), the company analyzes the data obtained, and lessons learned during the latest racing seasons, and prepares for the following season. The company’s headquarters contains 19 buildings scattered over 100 acres.
THE PROBLEMS DURING THE RACING SEASON
The company needs to make quick decisions during races—some in real time, sometimes in a split second. Different team members need to participate, and they are in different locations. Communication and collaboration are critical.
Car racing is based on teamwork, drivers, engineers, planners, mechanics, and others who participate. Members must communicate and collaborate to make decisions.
The environment is too noisy to talk during a race. However, team members need to share data, graphs, and images, and chat quickly. Several decisions need to be made in real time that will help win races (e.g., how much fuel to add in the next few seconds to a car in the middle of the race). Team members must communicate and share data, including visual. It takes about 45–50 seconds for a car to complete a 2.5-mile lap at Daytona 500. During the race, top engineers need to communicate constantly with the fuelers. Last- minute data are common during the racing session.
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Any knowledge acquired in each lap can be used to improve the next one. In races, fueling decisions are critical. There are many other decisions to be made during the racing season. For example, after each race, the company needs to move a large crew with equipment and supplies from one location to the next (38 different venues). Moves need to be fast, efficient, and economical. Again, teamwork, as well as coordination, is needed.
There are 14 weeks to prepare for the next season. In addition, there is a considerable amount of data to analyze, simulate, discuss, and manipulate. For this, people need not only communication and collaboration tools but also analytics of different types.
HMS decided to use Microsoft Teams, which is a chat-based platform, for team workspace in Microsoft Office 365. This platform is used as a communication hub for team members at the race tracks and at any other location in the organization.
Microsoft Teams stores data in different formats in its Teams workspace. Therefore, car crews, engineers, and mechanics can make split-second decisions that may help win races. This also enables computational analysis in a central place.
Microsoft Teams includes several subprograms and is easily connected to other soft- ware in Office 365. Office 365 provides several other tools that increase collaboration (e.g., SharePoint). For example, in the HSM solution, there is a working link to Excel as well as to SharePoint. Also, One Note of Teams is used to share meeting notes. Before Teams, the company used Slack (Section 11.4), but Slack did not provide enough security and functions.
Members need to share and discuss the massive amount of data accumulated during the racing season. Note that several employees have multiple skills and tasks. The solution included the creation of a collaboration hub for concurrent projects. Note that each different project may require different talents and data, depending on the project’s type. Also, the solution involves other information technology (IT) tools. For example, HMS uses Power BI dashboard to com- municate data visually. Some data can be processed as Excel-based spreadsheets.
Microsoft Teams is also available as a mobile app. Each team’s data file is available on the track at home and even under a car. So, the software package is able to respond to important situations right away.
The major results were improved productivity, smoother communication, easier collabora- tion, and reduction of the need for the time consumed in face-to-face meetings. People can chat online, seeing their partners without leaving their physical workplace. The company admits that without Teams, it would not have been able to accomplish its success. Today, Teams has everything the company needs at its fingertips.
u QUESTIONS FOR THE OPENING VIGNETTE
1. What were the major drivers for the use of Microsoft’s Teams?
2. List some discussions held during the racing season, and how they were supported by the technology.
3. List decisions held during the off-season, and how they were supported by the technology.
4. Discuss why Microsoft Teams was selected, and explain how it supports teamwork group decision making.
5. Trace communication and collaboration within and between groups.
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6. Specify the function of Microsoft Teams workspace.
7. Watch the video at youtube.com/watch?time_continue=108&v=xnFdM9IOaTE and summarize its content.
WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THIS VIGNETTE
The first lesson is that many tasks today must be done by collaborating teams in order to succeed. Second, time is critical; therefore, companies must use technology to speed opera- tions and facilitate communication and collaboration in teamwork. Third, it is possible to use existing software for support, but it is better to use a major vendor that has additional products that can supplement the collaboration/communication software. Fourth, chat- ting can expedite communication, and visual technology support can be useful. Fifth, team members belong to diverse units and have diverse skills. The software brings them together. Team members should have clear goals and understand how to achieve them. Finally, collaboration can be both within and between groups.
Sources: Compiled from Ruiz-Hopper (2016) and Microsoft (2017).
11.2 MAKING DECISIONS IN GROUPS: CHARACTERISTICS, PROCESS, BENEFITS, AND DYSFUNCTIONS
Managers and other knowledge workers continuously make decisions, design products, develop policies and strategies, create software systems, and so on. Frequently they do it in groups. When people work in groups (i.e., teams), they perform group work or teamwork. Group work refers to work done by two or more people together. One aspect of group work is group decision making.
Group decision making refers to a situation in which people make decisions together. Let’s first look at the characteristics of group work.
Characteristics of Group Work
The following are some of the functions and characteristics of group work:
• Group members may be located in different places. • Group members may work at different times. • Group members may work for the same organization or different organizations. • A group can be permanent or temporary. • A group can be at one managerial level or span several levels. • A group can create synergy (leading to process and task gains) or result in conflict. • A group can generate productivity gains and/or losses. • A group’s task may have to be accomplished very quickly. • It may be impossible or too expensive for all team members to meet in one place
at the same time, especially when the meeting is called for emergency purposes. • Some of the groups’ needed data, information, or knowledge may be located in
several sources, some of which may be external to the organization. • The expertise of a group’s team members may be needed. • Groups perform many tasks; however, groups of managers and analysts frequently
concentrate on decision making or problem solving. • The decisions made by a group are easier to implement if supported by all (or at
least most) members. • Group work has many benefits and, unfortunately, some possible dysfunctions. • Group behaviors are influenced by several factors and may affect group decisions.
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650 Part IV • Robotics, Social Networks, AI and IoT
Types of Decisions Made by Groups
Groups are usually involved in two major types of decision making:
1. Making a decision together. 2. Supporting activities or tasks related to the decision-making process. For example,
the group may select criteria for evaluating alternative solutions, prioritizing possible ones, and helping design strategy to implement them.
Group Decision-Making Process
The process of group decision making is similar to that of the general decision-making process described in Chapter 1 but it has more steps. Steps of the group decision-making process are illustrated in Figure 11.1.
Step 1. Prepare for meetings regarding the agenda, time, place, participants, and schedule. Step 2. Determine the topic of the meeting (e.g., problem definition). Step 3. Select participants for the meeting. Step 4. Select criteria for evaluating the alternatives and the selected solution. Step 5. Generate alternative ideas (brainstorm). Step 6. Organize the ideas generated into similar groups. Step 7. Evaluate the ideas, discuss, and brainstorm.
FIGURE 11.1 The Process of Group Decision Making.
Preparation, schedule, agenda
Define the problem
Select evaluation criteria
Idea generation, alternative solution
Organize submitted ideas
Idea evaluation, discussion
Select or find idea or shortlist of ideas
Make a choice, recommendations
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Step 8. Select a short list (finalists). Step 9. Select a recommended solution. Step 10. Plan implementation of the solution. Step 11. Implement the solution.
The process is shown as sequential, but as shown in Figure 11.1, some loops are possible. Also, if no solution is found, the process may start again.
GROUP DECISION FACTS When a group is going through the steps shown in Figure 11.1, the following is usually true:
• The decisions made need to be implemented. • Group members are typically of equal or nearly equal status. • The outcome of a meeting depends partly on the knowledge, opinions, and judg-
ments of its participants and the support they give to the outcome. • The outcome of a meeting depends on the composition of the group and on the
decision-making process it uses. • Group members settle differences of opinions either by the ranking person present
or through negotiations or arbitration. • The members of a group can be in one place, meeting face-to-face, or they can be
a virtual team, in which case they are in different places meeting electronically. They can also meet at different times.
Benefits and Limitations of Group Work
Some people endure meetings (the most common form of group work) as a necessity; oth- ers find meetings to be a waste of time. Many things can go wrong in a meeting. Participants may not clearly understand its purpose, may lack focus, or may have hidden agendas. Many participants may be afraid to speak up, or a few may dominate the discussions. Misunder- standings occur because of different interpretations of language, gestures, or expression. Technology Insight 11.1 provides a list of factors that can hinder the effectiveness of a manually managed meeting. Besides being challenging, teamwork is also expensive. A meeting of several top managers or executives can cost thousands of dollars.
Group work may have potential benefits (process gains) or drawbacks (process losses). Process gains are the benefits of working in groups. The unfortunate dysfunc- tions that may occur when people work in groups are called process losses. Examples of each are listed in Technology Insight 11.1.
TECHNOLOGY INSIGHT 11.1 Benefits and Dysfunctions of Working in Groups
The following are the possible major benefits and dysfunctions of group works.
Benefits of Working in Groups (Process Gains) Dysfunctions of Face-to-Face Group Process
• It provides learning. Groups are better than individuals at understanding problems. They can teach each other.
• Social pressures of conformity may result in groupthink (i.e., people begin to think alike and not tolerate new ideas; they yield to conformance pressure).
• People readily take ownership of problems and their solutions.
• It is a time-consuming, slow process. • Some relevant information could be missing.
• Group members have their egos embedded in the final decision, so they are committed it.
• A meeting can lack coordination, have a poor agenda, or be poorly planned.
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Benefits of Working in Groups (Process Gains) Dysfunctions of Face-to-Face Group Process
• Groups are better than individuals at catching errors.
• A meeting may be dominated by time, topic, opinion of one or a few individuals, or fear of contributing because of the possibility of conflicts.
• A group has more information and knowledge than any one member does. Members can combine their knowledge to create new knowledge. More and more creative alternatives for problem solving can be generated, and better solutions can be derived (e.g., through brainstorming).
• Some group members can tend to influence the agenda while some try to rely on others to do most of the work (free riding). The group may ignore good solutions, have poorly defined goals, or be composed of the wrong participants.
• A group may produce synergy during problem solving, therefore the effectiveness and/or quality of group work can be greater than the sum of what individual members produce.
• Some members may be afraid to speak up. • The group may be unable to reach consensus. • The group may lack focus.
• Working in a group may stimulate the creativity of the participants and the process.
• There can be a tendency to produce poor- quality compromises.
• Working together could allow a group to have better and more precise communication.
• There is often nonproductive time (e.g., socializing, preparing, waiting for latecomers).
• Risk propensity is balanced. Groups moderate high-risk takers and encourage conservatives.
• There can be a tendency to repeat what has already been said (because of failure to remember or process).
• Meeting costs can be high (e.g., travel, participation time spent).
• There can be incomplete or inappropriate use of information.
• There can be too much information (i.e., information overload).
• There can be incomplete or incorrect task analysis.
• There can be inappropriate or incomplete representation in the group.
• There can be attention or concentration blockage.
u SECTION 11.2 REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Define group work.
2. List five characteristics of group work.
3. Describe the steps of group decision making.
4. List the major activities that occur in group work.
5. List and discuss five benefits of group work.
6. List and discuss five dysfunctions of group-made decisions.
11.3 SUPPORTING GROUP WORK AND TEAM COLLABORATION WITH COMPUTERIZED SYSTEMS
When people work in teams, especially when the members are in different locations and may work at different times, they need to communicate, collaborate, and access a diverse set of information sources in multiple formats. This makes meetings, especially virtual ones, complex with an increased chance for process losses. Therefore, it is important to follow certain processes and procedures for conducting meetings.
Group work may require different levels of coordination. Sometimes a group oper- ates at the individual work level with members making individual efforts that require
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no coordination. As with a team of sprinters representing a country participating in a 100-meter dash, group productivity is simply the best of the individual results. At other times, group members may interact in coordination. At this level, as with a team in a relay race, the work requires careful coordination between otherwise independent individual efforts. Sometimes a team may operate at the concerted work level. As in a rowing race, teams working at this level must make a continuous concerted effort to be successful. Different mechanisms support group work at different levels of coordination.
Most organizations, small and large, use some computer-based communication and collaboration methods and tools to support people working in teams or groups. From e-mails to mobile phones and Short Message Service (SMS), as well as conferencing tech- nologies, such tools are an indispensable part of today’s work life. We next highlight some related technologies and applications.
Overview of Group Support Systems (GSS)
For groups to collaborate effectively, appropriate communication methods and technolo- gies are needed. We refer to these technologies as group support systems (GSS). The Internet and its derivatives (i.e., intranets, Internet of Things [IoT], and extranets) are the infrastructures on which much communication and collaboration occurs. The Web supports intra- and inter-organizational collaborative decision making.
Computers have been used for several decades to facilitate group work and decision making. Lately, collaborative tools have received more attention due to their increased capabilities and ability to save time and money (e.g., on travel cost) and to expedite deci- sion making. Computerized tools can be classified according to time and place categories.
The tools used to support collaboration, groups, and the effectiveness of collaborative com- puting technology depend on the location of the group members and on the time that shared information is sent and received. DeSanctis and Gallupe (1987) proposed a framework for classifying IT communication support technologies. In this framework, communication is divided into four cells, which are shown with representative computerized support technolo- gies in Figure 11.2. The four cells are organized along two dimensions—time and place.
When information is sent and received almost simultaneously, the communication is in synchronous (real-time) mode. Telephones, instant messaging (IM), and face-to-face meet- ings are examples of synchronous communication. Asynchronous communication occurs when the receiver gets (or views) the information, such as an e-mail, at a different time than it was sent. The senders and the receivers can be in the same place or in different places.
As shown in Figure 11.2, time and place combinations can be viewed as a four-cell matrix, or framework. The four cells of the framework are as follows:
• Same time/same place. Participants meet face-to-face, as in a traditional meeting, or decisions are made in a specially equipped decision room. This is still an impor- tant way to meet even when Web-based support is used because it is sometimes critical for participants to leave their regular workplace to eliminate distractions.
• Same time/different place. Participants are in different places, but they com- municate at the same time (e.g., with videoconferencing or IM).
• Different time/same place. People work in shifts. One shift leaves information for the next shift.
• Different time/(any place) different place (any place). Participants are in different places, and they send and receive information at different times. This occurs when team members are traveling, have conflicting schedules, or work in different time zones.
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Groups and group work in organizations are proliferating. Consequently, groupware continues to evolve to support effective group work, mostly for communication and col- laboration (Section 11.4).
Group Collaboration for Decision Support
In addition to making decisions, groups also support decision-making subprocesses such as brainstorming. Collaboration technology is known to be the driving force for productivity increase and boosting people and organizational performance. Groups collaborate to make decisions in several ways. For example, groups provide assistance for the steps in Figure 11.1. Groups can help to identify problems, to assist in choosing criteria for selecting solutions, generating solutions (e.g., brainstorming), evaluating alternatives, and assisting in the selection of the best solution and implementing it. The group can be involved in one step or in several steps. In addition, it can collect the necessary data.
Many technologies can be used for collaboration; several of them are computerized and are described in several sections in this chapter.
Studies indicate that adopting collaboration technologies increases productiv- ity: for example, visual collaborative solutions increase employees’ satisfaction and productivity.
COMPUTERIZED TOOLS AND PLATFORMS We divide the computerized support into two parts. In Section 11.4, we present the major support of generic activities in com- munication and collaboration. Note that hundreds, maybe thousands, of commercial products are available to support communication and collaboration. We cover only a sample here.
FIGURE 11.2 The Time/Place Framework.
• Instant Messaging • Chatting, decision room • Web-based GSS • Multimedia presentation system • Whiteboard • Document sharing • Workspace
• GSS in a decision room • Web-based GSS • Workflow management system • Document sharing • E-mail, V-mail • Videoconferencing playback
• Web-based GSS • Virtual whiteboard • Document sharing • Videoconferencing • Audio-conferencing • Computer conferencing • E-mail, V-mail • Virtual workspace
• Web-based GSS • Virtual whiteboard • Document sharing • E-mail, V-mail • Workflow management system • Computer conferencing with memory • videoconferencing playback • Voice memo
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Chapter 11 • Group Decision Making, Collaborative Systems, and AI Support 655
Section 11.5 covers direct support of decision making, both to the entire process and to the major steps in the process. Note that some products, such as Microsoft Teams, which is cited in the opening vignette, support both generic activities and those in the decision-making process.
u SECTION 11.3 REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why do companies use computers to support group work?
2. What is GSS?
3. Describe the components of the time/place framework.
4. Describe the importance of collaboration for decision making.
11.4 ELECTRONIC SUPPORT FOR GROUP COMMUNICATION AND COLLABORATION
A large number of tools and methods are available to facilitate group work, e-collaboration, and communication. The following sections present only some tools that support the process. Our attention here is on indirect support to decision making. In Section 11.5, we cover direct support.
Groupware for Group Collaboration
Many computerized tools have been developed to provide group support. These tools are called groupware because their primary objective is to support group work indirectly as described in this section. Some e-mail programs, chat rooms, IM, and teleconferences provide indirect support.
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