Do Groups Make Better Software Decisions?

Software decisions are challenging. And, Group Dynamics play a big role in finding the right software for your nonprofit.

It is no surprise to many that organizations rely on groups,teams, or committees to come up with a decision on software. In fact, it’s rare today to rely on a single person to make the software decision. In this short article, I wanted to shed some light on how group dynamics can be good and bad in making that very important software decision.

How to Address Group Dynamics in Making Software Decisions

Why are teams formed to make software decisions? I believe the thought process behind this is that while one person bases decisions on their own experiences and biases, a group applies their collective experiences and differing perspectives to come up with a better solution. In our opinion, it’s important to form a group to perform the software selection task, however, the leader of the group should realize that there are some negative consequences that may arise due to group dynamics in making software decisions. And, in order to provide the best overall outcome, various dynamics must be addressed before they become detrimental to the decision-making process.

The following are some of the most common negative dynamics based on psychological principles that can result in poor group decision-making, and a few smart thoughts on how to address them:

Lack of Strong Leadership

Weak leadership within a group often leads to one person dominating the process. This often leads to a lack of direction, shifting of focus away from the actual issue, or infighting within the team. The best way to address this is to designate a group leader or facilitator. This person should have great communication abilities, and have the skills and knowledge necessary to guide the group without becoming domineering. If domination occurs, it may require coaching of the leader to point out what is needed from the group as a whole. For example, in a recent software selection review at a nonprofit, it was clear that the Membership Director was the dominant player on the team. And, no doubt was going to do their best to persuade the group towards their departmental needs rather than that of the organization even if it meant giving up in other lessor known and “sizzling areas” like Accounting. In this particular case, we addressed it early on and avoided the derailment thank goodness!

Groupthink 

Groupthink occurs when members are more focused on everyone agreeing than they are with making the best decision. This dynamic often leads to a lack of exploration of possible solutions. The best way to deal with this dynamic is to ensure that emphasis is not placed on group harmony. Instead, the members need to understand that personal insights are needed in order to reach the best decision, and that dissent is an acceptable part of the process. This is an interesting psychological principal. It’s not common, for the “leading options” which are perceived to be the “easiest path of resistance” aren’t always best choice for the company. In other words, just because a software option has been around for a long time, doesn’t mean it’s always a fit for everyone.

Authority Deference 

When the leader of the group is a highly influential member of an organization or department, it can lead to team members agreeing, regardless of their own feelings, in order to be seen in a favorable light. This can be avoided in some cases by choosing a leader with a lower or less esteemed status within the organization with varying degrees of success. However, if this isn’t possible or a good idea, it may be worth employing a specialist in software selection to help here as well. In software decisions, there are usually many (siloed) initiatives in the works and it’s important to know that going into the process and during it.

Blocking

This occurs when there are members of the team that block decision-making by interrupting the flow of information. Common behaviors include aggression, withdrawal, negativity, & possibly unwarranted humor. This typically transpires at the start of the software selection process, however, can creep up at the tail end when a member perceives the decision going a different direction than they desire. When these behaviors are present in the group, strong leadership and coaching will be required to challenge the behavior. And, providing feedback to the member on how his or her actions are affecting others will be necessary, and often eliminates the problem. Across organization sizes, it’s important to have Executive Sponsorship and oversight. And, at the end of the day, be held accountable to the decision making process.

Groups can and do make good decisions. However, each of these dynamics pose a threat to the common goal of finding a software “fit”. But, they can be overcome if they are addressed quickly in group decision making. Monitoring behaviors in the group will ensure that these problems are identified before they result in negative dynamics. This will lead to improved information sharing, improved group dynamics in the software selection decision-making process, and a better software decision outcome.

If you may need help in determining the best software solutions for your organization, SmartThoughts would like to be apart of your group. Contact us today.

Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Nonprofit Software Dynamics play a role in the decisions for your organization. Be smart.

 

 

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