Making The Perfect Group Decision: Getting Inside The No


Working with teams and groups can often be very tough and time consuming simply because sometimes it becomes really hard to make a decision that everyone agrees to. There are always certain people who will have alternate views and and ideas towards solving a problem. In order to to arrive or make a good decision it is important to acknowledge the voices and opinions of such individuals as they bring to light certain areas not considered by the majority.

At any good Business School, the Organizational behavior classes will teach you that it is necessary to foster Cognitive conflict as it brings out the hidden assumptions that often form the base of ineffective decisions and helps avoid Groupthink.

Recently at one of my lectures at AGSM, I learned about another framework which I thought can prove to be very effective in making group decisions. Called “Getting Inside The NO” it involves the following steps:

    1. Generate all possible points of view or opinions on a particular issue. The leader should always remain neutral.


    1. Make it safe for all the members in the team to say ‘NO’. For this it is important for the Leader to use his authority power and create an open atmosphere where people can openly voice their opinions.


    1. Spread the NO, ask other people in the team and who are a part of the decision making process whether they find the arguments of people with the opposing view better. If so they should be allowed to change their stance.


    1. Once the members of the group are comfortable with their decisions, start questioning the minority. Make sure to to have a constructive argument with them and include their wisdom in the decision making process.


    1. During the above process it is quite likely that some people will again change their positions or opinions as a lot of hidden assumptions will come to light. Once the two groups are convinced about their views, ask the minority group the question “What would it take you to come along with us ?“. This step might involve making a few concessions to the decision of the majority but it would help in achieving a consensus.


In this manner it would be possible to arrive at a decision that everyone is comfortable with and is a result of taking into consideration everyone’s opinions. Although it might not be feasible to use this approach at all times it should be used whenever possible.

If you would like to see an example of this approach then I would recommend watching the 1957 film, 12 Angry Men, a movie that is quite well-known in B-schools.


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