identify in the subject line the theme for which you are responding

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Learning Activity 1 – Theme One

When and where are groups better than individuals to make a decision? Discussion is the greatest difference between the group decision making process and an individual process.


Advantages and Disadvantages of Group Decision Making

After reading the material for this week review the following fact pattern and discuss the implications of individual and group decision making in this instance. Consider in the discussion who makes better decisions – individuals or groups! Does it make a difference as to what the subject matter of the decision is as to who would be a better fit to make the decision -an individual or the group? (E.g. would launching a new product be a time where group work might be more effective than individual?)

Address the pros and cons of individual vs. group decision making as exemplified by the fact pattern.Had Gabriel Garrow been noted for making good decisions rather than no decision would your ideas on individual vs. group decision making be different?Be sure to relate the material to the facts of the case and to reference with in-page citations your remarks.

Fancy Food Products

Josh Johnson was delighted to accept a job in the Fancy Food Products, Inc., a multinational consumer food products corporation. Two months later, Josh was miserable. The problem was Gabriel Garrow, the general manager in charge of the Ohio branch, to whom Johnson reported.

Garrow had worked his way into the general manager’s position by “keeping his nose clean” and not making mistakes, which he accomplished by avoiding controversial and risky decisions. As Johnson complained to his wife, “Any time I ask him to make a decision, he just wants us to dig deeper and provide 30 more pages of data, most of which are irrelevant. I can’t get any improvements started.”

Garrow seemed terrified of departing from the status quo, but Johnson was planning changes to the line of frozen breakfast foods he was in charge of and needed Garrow support. While competitors were introducing new frozen breakfast products, Johnson clung to what was familiar—a 1990s package design and breakfast foods that were laden with fat and sodium. Sales were stagnating and grocers were giving shelf space to more successful products. Running out of patience and struggling to stay motivated, Johnson decided to make one last attempt to persuade Garrow to revamp the frozen breakfast line. However, fate stepped in to help him along. Division head came to Garrow and told him that they had three weeks to develop a new breakfast line or they would lose the whole project and there department would be cut.

Garrow called Johnson in and told him that he had two weeks to make his case for a new line. If they could persuade him of their new ideas he would make the decision in their favor. If not he would make the decision and report it to the decision head.

Johnson and his team went to work, scrambling to pull together the extensive data he knew would be required to make Garrow feel comfortable rolling out a new line of frozen breakfast foods for the health-conscious consumer.

For the next week and half, Johnson and two product managers worked extensive overtime, gathering data and developing a plan. They studied competitors, researched consumer breakfast habits, and hired a Chicago design firm to mock up a new package design. They even met with a dietitian to analyze the fat and sugar content of the most popular breakfast foods and develop healthier options. Believing he had a solid plan, Johnson then held focus groups to fine-tune the final details of the plan. The team decided the following products would be the best course of action for the short turnaround time needed to produce the products: a low-fat, low-sugar frozen breakfast items: a home-style, organic wheat waffle and a breakfast sandwich made of low-fat yogurt and whole wheat cereal wafers.

As Johnson made his presentation to Garrow, he encountered this response: “You know, this is a huge investment, Josh. Is your team sure of the choices. I have researched this a little but have not run the data like you but I think that a low-carb option or something that the teenagers might like would be a different approach. You didn’t mention them in your presentation. They don’t even eat breakfast, do they? Can you get me some answers to these questions? I know we only have a few days left before I make my decision but this needs to be done right.”

Learning Activity 2 – Theme Two

Just as individuals have bias to making decisions so do groups. Two of the biggest problems with group decision-making are groupthink and lack of synergy in a group.

Read the following articles

Avoiding Groupthink


Groupthink: A Common Contributor to Team Failure

Groupthink is one of the most prevalent of the hidden traps in the business world. View the following videos (spoofs) and then answer the following questions based on the reading material for this week. What symptoms of groupthink do you see? Identify the conditions in the facts that led to the groupthink taking over the decision process.


The Process (Designing the Stop Sign)

Learning Activity 3 – Theme Three

The Leader and Managers group decision making fashion

Go back to Fancy Food Products Inc., and leave Mr. Garrow out of the equation and suppose instead that you are Johnson and you are charged with setting up a decision making team for the new breakfast line. Focus on putting together a team that would handle the decision making process. Who might you pick to be on the team, how would they go about making the decision, would you take a leadership role or would you be a facil itator? What decision making process would you choose to use and why? Address some of the problems that might arise in the group process and how to counteract them. Set up the best team and the best circumstances to make the team succeed. Finally, comment on whether you see any differences in the process between a leader and managers perspective.

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