Group Decision-Making

What are, in your opinion, three key take-aways asserted in Talbott’s “Future Does Not Compute,”chapter 10? How do they matter today? What might they look like in the future? Share your thoughts before Thursday, March 2, 2017’s class as a reply to this post.

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14 responses to “Group Decision-Making

  1. Use of DSS or group support systems in the workplace can make conferencing productive by allowing users to contribute their ideas in an anonymous environment diminishing fear of judgment, enabling users to voice their ideas and provide meaningful contributions, and helping users to collectively reach their goals.
    Research into risks and potential issues with group support systems has been limited, but the author believes that reliance on group support systems too much can have negative consequences. While group support systems can make communicating a more efficient and productive task, it also has the potential to hinder creativity if its users rely too much on its procedural nature, and could cause strain in business relationships.
    Group support systems enable the growth and efficiency of its users as workers, but different people will require different things from the systems based on their characteristics, individual life experiences, and resulting needs.
    I think that all of these ideas are still applicable to group support systems and DSS, as well as many other applications, today. Use of software for conferencing can allow people to discuss an issue despite physical barriers to work out meaningful solutions together. Conferences and interviews can now be conducted regardless of whether the participants are in separate rooms in the same building or scattered around the world. Many people who use conferencing applications multitask when using them, which was probably not a consideration during the development of earlier DSS. This has the potential to hinder a participant to fully understand an issue or to meaningfully contribute to a discussion, less so than a reliance on the procedural nature of the DSS itself. As more different forms of conferencing applications are developed, each one differs slightly to fit the needs of its target demographic. For example, Skype might be an ideal choice for a small group of older professionals, working to resolve an issue. In contrast, a younger group of individuals might choose an application like WhatsApp to communicate with one another at their leisure and in brief messages from whatever location is convenient to each of them. As these conferencing systems allow for the efficiency of communication for their users, they have also been developed according to their users’ needs.
    I think that these applications will continue to develop to meet the complex needs of their users while still striving to make them efficient workers. Conferencing applications may evolve to be used along with hardware like Google Class or virtual reality, eliminating the use of small screens to communicate with one another. I think this could make interactions seem more personal and in-depth than speaking to someone exclusively though text or on a small screen. This would also continue to allow users to communicate with one another from any location, but in a potentially more meaningful way.

  2. Julianne Reif

    In any setting where decisions need to be made as a group there are certain fundamental problems that arise. The judgement of others, the freedom to present any idea, the power an individual possesses to speak their mind, and coming to a unanimous or at least majority consensus in order to come to a decision. Decision support systems are available to eliminate these issues and they do so with three components; Electronic Brainstorming, Issue Analyzer, and a Voting tool. As far as their effectiveness, three takeaways from this article are the the pros of anonymity, the cons of group think, and its accessibility.
    i.) The article pointed out many effective tools the software possesses and anonymous submissions was definitely one of the best. It breaks down the walls that are put up by not only proximity and accessibility but social power as well. Without fear of judgement people can feel free to speak up and offer new ideas.
    ii.) Group think can be very dangerous to decision making, and while conversations happening electronically and in real time can be very effective, they can also promote an environment that is moving very rapidly and does not have time for deliberation. This pace could hinder someone’s willingness to slow the idea train and debate an issue. Or by the time they thought about opposing it, the group was onto a different topic.
    iii.) Finally just as the article mentioned and really with any technology, there’s always the possibility that a group member does not have access to the material or the education to be engaged.

  3. One main take-away from this reading is that technology is here to improve and speed up our day-to-day lives. The technology discussed was made to make meetings quicker and easier, therefore more productive. This still matters today because our society is always looking for ways to improve our daily lives, and this could be one possible way. The future could make this technology smoother, as the technology was criticized for being clumsy. As technology continues to develop, it will become much smoother.

    Another take-away from this is that this technology, and all technology, comes with risks. In terms of this tech, the risk comes from the possibility of limiting or inhibiting human relationships and interactions. This is also still prevalent today because many people today still argue that technology is taking away human interaction and too much is becoming automated rather than personal. As for the future, I believe there is a possibility to combine technology with humanity. We can still use technology, but still keep the relationships and human aspect of interactions. Exactly how this will be developed is up to the tech companies, but it will most likely stem from existing tech such as FaceTime or Skype, where there is already a somewhat personal aspect.

    A third an final take-away from this reading is that age will definitely play a role in the adaptation of new technology. This is still prevalent today in that there seems to be a generational gap in terms of technological ability. It seems the younger generation is more tech-savvy than the older generation. Of course this is not true for everyone, and I believe in the future, the generational gap will continue to shrink. This type of technology is still new and everyone is still learning about it. In the future where everyone is growing up with this evolving technology, I believe all generations will try to keep up with the times.

  4. Hayden Donnelly

    This reading makes it painfully clear that technology and its advancements are made in order to enhance peoples’ lives. The main technological example clearly showed how advancements have made working in groups significantly easier than it used to be. These advancements are seen in just about all products, not just conference calls and other group-oriented tech. As has happened with the DSS, society will continue to move towards improving as much technology as possible, in an attempt to make life as efficient as possible. This is clearly seen in things like cell phones and computers in only the last ten years; it’s incredible.

    I think a gigantic problem–and a very relevant one at that–is the evolution of groupthink as society moves forward. It has the potential of changing the way that decisions are made, and in more bad ways than good ones. I think the biggest problem that technology brings to this issue is that it can cause decisions to me made TOO quickly, and not too many great decisions are made without stopping and thinking about them first. Not only can the speed which decisions are made become intimidating and make those with opposing views feel like they should keep their mouths shut, but it can also mean that the group moves on to a different subject befirand anyone can think of a reason why the most reason choice might not have been the best one.

    I think that the most relevant point brought up in the chapter wa the role that age plays in technological evolution. Every kid my age has seen a high school or college professor (usually on the much older side) struggle with simple tech issues that their students could work through in the sleep. We have eight-year-olds teaching their parents how to use their smartphones and I’m sure that an intelligence agency near you is filled with a bunch of twenty-somethings that can code script better than they can read. Obviously this isn’t the case across the board: I’m sure there are some older folks in that intel room and there are plenty of parents who probably walk their children through their new iPhones (even though no eight-year-old should have an iPhone in my opinion). I do believe that the age gap will continue to decrease as each generation comes and goes, the one we see now can be credited to just how quickly technology has advanced in the past century.

  5. Katelyn Kirby

    1) The “group support system” has three phases. The Electronic Brainstorming software allows members to record ideas and contribute to a general growing list that is available to everyone. This is very similar to google docs today. An Issue Analyzer allows the group to pull out key items from the general list as well as import new key ideas. The third phase is the Voting tool that provides methods for members to choose key items, anonymously. This software is very much used today for conferencing, meetings, and group projects in for students in school. In the future this may be moved to involve artificial intelligence so that the members just think in their mind their opinions and it is automatically generated into the software.
    2) The developers claim that the electronic meeting system has a number of benefits. For example, it allows members to work simultaneously and provides equal opportunities, enables larger group meetings, allows the group to use a number of techniques to perform tasks, etc. These benefits should make people more productive in the future while working in a group setting.
    3) The article states that “the entire organization has already been cut loose from its human justification and reduced to something like a computational machine.” Today, we have gone more and more away from human improvements and have transferred them to what technology can do instead. I see the adaptation of technology outweighing the need for human labor as we progress in the future.

  6. The first idea that I took away from reading this article is that technology is inherently good, but is largely dependent on people to enhance its capabilities and apply it properly. Stephen Talbott explains that it is not to say to that supporting software is inherently threatening, but much depends on the group using it. This essentially means that as different technologies develop, it is imperative that everyone (not just specialists) becomes aware of their capabilities and can decipher which contexts to use it in. This matters today because our world is becoming rapidly more advanced, yet a large portion of the population clings to what is comfortable or easy. If public application fails, this means that potentially great and useful technology can become obsolete.

    The second idea that I took away from this article is that group systems are extremely helpful under the right conditions but can take away from productivity if not used for the cultivation of wider awareness. “It is remarkable how easily and subtly the human-centered view slips from our grasp” Talbott said. “Indeed, just so far as the corporation is viewed as an enterprise designed to score profit, rather than to serve worthwhile ends under the discipline of economic controls, to that extent the entire organization has already been cut loose from its human justification and reduced to something like a computational machine.” This is extremely important today because technology has grown to do quite a lot for us; we should be using these capabilities to enhance our abilities and not narrow them further.

    The third and final idea that I took away from this article is simply a thought: how does age influence the ways in which people use emerging technology? Talbott proposes that younger people tend to be more optimistic and driven when problem solving as opposed to the older generations who seem to lack in that area. He says that it is too early to know whether the group will hinder or help software advancements. As someone mentioned in a previous post, we have all seen the older generation struggle to familiarize themselves with new technology. Some are more optimistic than others but still usually request the help of a younger person. I can see this as a potential issue within a big business where clashing between the two groups can occur especially as technology increasingly becomes our primary means of efficiency. However, I do not think that this will deter from technological success. I simply believe that this is the cycle of life and that the growing population will feel the same about my generation as we reach our fifties and sixties.

  7. In my opinion, three key takeaways are:
    1) Talbott believes there is a difference due to age in how a worker functions and solves problems. While this is true to an extent, I believe age has less to do with it than socialization. We have a very sharp generational divide currently between millenials – those that grew up with technology and are used to it – and basically anyone older than millenials (an already vague age group), and I believe that divide shows itself in how individuals use technology to solve problems. Those who were already adults when the tech industry (especially the digital tech industry) began booming grew up with a fundamentally different way of thinking than those who grew up with digital technology on hand. Classrooms now are radically different than they were in the 60s and 70s – of course the way we’re taught problem solving is going to be different, too. Looking towards the future, it makes sense that with more technology, the way we teach problem solving will continue to change and evolve as well.
    2) The role of the computer versus the role of the human in capital. Talbott discusses the question of “Is the corporation a human activity in the service of human needs, or not?” He dances around what I believe to be the center of the issue – is the corporation a human activity in the service of human needs, or not, when that corporation exists within the framework of capitalism? In the frame of capitalism, corporations indeed only exist to create profit, as much of it as possible, above all else. Through advertising and technology shaping society, corporations make people believe like they offer services filling human needs, when in reality most of their services are superfluous to actual human needs. In terms of capitalism, replacing a paid human worker with an unpaid computer worker may help increase profit or at least decrease spending. However, this does not account for computer error and the fact that even the most advanced computers are not capable of picking up on or understanding key aspects of face-to-face conversation. What is the likelihood of a computer ever being able to brainstorm ideas? How does a computer replicate good ol’ human intuition? Though companies may use computers to assist with business, humans are still at the core of the business – where the ideas and final decisions are made.
    3) Be aware of the limitations in group support systems. As I said above, computers being able to brainstorm is still a long ways off. On top of that, however, are the limitations in actually USING the systems. They are only so useful as they fulfill a need, or enrich an experience, or help expedite work. Talbott mentioned how people could not type as fast as they could speak, and that was a criticism of the support system. These systems have to be designed with these kinds of criticisms in mind. If it relies on its user being able to type as fast or faster than he or she can speak, then is it really assisting in business? Perhaps it’s best to realize that at this point in time no single group support system can take over/assist in all the tasks in meeting. Rather, it would be best to use to enhance select aspects of a meeting. For example, using the system to brainstorm and then vote on ideas, but not using the system to discuss the ideas.

  8. 1) One of the main points that Talbott makes in chapter 10 is the fact that group support systems are time savers because of how direct they are with getting the message across. The group system made to facilitate meetings that was developed at the University of Alabama was successful because of “”the preciseness of the process procedures” which gave them an advantage. Because of the clear, precise direction, the group was able to focus on the key points and discard irrelevant discussion.
    2) Another main point is that these technologies are bound to have their flaws, despite what the creators may say. There are researchers coming up with disadvantages such as the fact that, “most people cannot type as fast as they speak, so the meeting is slowed down unless there are approximately eight or more participants… and the system is useless for “one-to-many” forms of communication”. If a person is lecturing, the typing time vs. speaking time would be too far off to be efficient.
    3) The last idea from this chapter is how the information presented by Talbott can relate to what technology is today. Sometimes it seems that technology is too focused on shortcuts which can make it seem like the lazy way out. If every technological advancement is moving towards “productivity, time-to-solution…” etc., then the skills that humans would have needed to do the job would have been come obsolete because technology is doing all of the work now. It will be interesting to see if technology continues to move in this direction.

  9. After reading Talbott’s “Future Does Not Compute” I found that the system works the best in a work setting. The advantages of this electronic system ranges from providing equal opportunities for everyone to participate, to supporting the development of an organizations memory from meeting to meeting. The system even caters to a groups wishes in a way that they can turn it off at any time. Another take away from this system was the potential disadvantages. One disadvantage is that in most cases, people usually talk a lot faster than they speak so the meeting may not go as fast as it would without the system. The only way it would stay up to speed is if there were eight or more participants in the meeting.
    The system is also useless when it is used for one too many forms of communication like for example, lectures. Today, if a business is facing specific issues, a manager with access to the system could use it to tackle. I can see this system helping companies in a way that makes meetings more efficient. It can help the spread of information to all of the employees. It may evolve to be more of a personable system to make messages more agreeable and recognizable. This may help with the evolution of social media and how different all of the apps are. It might create one single communication system that works well in a work place. China has recently come out with an app called Wechat which is a social media site that has functions of many apps all combined into this one app. It makes connecting with people a lot easier.

  10. 1. An example of a Group Support System is the software tested out by IBM employees. It consisted of Electronic Brainstorming where each person anonymously shared their ideas, Issue Analyzer to electronically focus on key items, and Voting to gather a quick group consensus. The most prevalent benefit of the system was from the anonymous sharing aspect, which increased meaningful answers and rationality, and decreased intimidation and distractions from the task. Variations of aspects of this system can be seen today in Doodle polls or Google surveys and in virtual meetings. Future uses could connect us with even less action required.

    2. Talbott notes that when comparing an electronic meeting management system to a meeting without this technology on the basis of just productivity and time, the results look amazing. However, he argues that this is not as important as it has been made to seem. The creativity and free flow of ideas that the written format stifles could have otherwise provided innovative ways to consider the problem, and he considers this to oftentimes be more beneficial in the workplace. This still applies to present scenarios, because the balance between quantity and quality is never-ending. Future applications of this technology could provide for more creative input.

    3. Another notable takeaway is that when it is assumed that “the corporation is a human activity in the service of human needs”, problems can be understood as encouragement of human capital development. In such a view, working serves to fulfill a basic human need of feeling, and the problem solving and interactions at the meeting serve to teach new skills and improved judgement to the participants. Nowadays, the inventing of new technologies is an incarnation of that same need to work and create. In the future, we will still find ways to fill that need, even if on entirely virtual and/or impersonal platforms.

  11. 1) The first takeaway I had after reading Talbott’s review on Group Support Systems, was that newly implemented conferencing tools could be the wave of the future. In terms of the modern-day importance, these group systems offer an open and unpressured platform in which to share the ideas. The added benefit of anonymity helps cultivate idea on how to improve things as a whole, so it is a tremendous modern tool.
    Looking towards the future, these group systems will only be furthered advanced and developed. Whether it be holograms or virtual reality additions, group support systems are here to stay because of their functionality and convenience.
    2) Another takeaway would be that humans still feel a level of disconnect when solely interacting with machines. They like the uses and benefits of using the tools, but there is still the lingering sense of intrusion. There is also the worry that the systemized order of group systems will somehow limit spontaneity within the group, thus potentially limiting idea development. In terms of the future, with the continual advancements in technology, these fears will only continue to rise.
    3) A final takeaway would be the difference age makes on the implementation of these group systems. Not all workplaces will have a workforce that is tech savvy, creating a possible divide or tech barrier. We see this routinely in modern day society as the there is a sizable tech knowledge gap between those who were raised without the latest gadgets, compared to those that were exposed to these tools later in life.
    Hopefully moving forward, technology will become simplistic and common enough that the knowledge barriers are greatly lessened. By decreasing the gap, and generally having a society that is more apt to correctly using tech devices such as group systems, idea creation in unfettered.
    -Brad Kelly

  12. Nicole Karlin

    The first thing I took away from this chapter is that technology is here to enhance the lives of its users. The benefits of technology are based on its user and how they choose to
    There is constantly new technology developing and it is important that the everyday technology user become aware of rising technologies uses and capabilities. Technology is here to make things such as meetings run smoother and quicker. As society progresses, people are constantly looking for things that provide shortcuts or make the overall process of things quicker and easier. Technology is only going to move forward and progress in the future.

    Another point I took away from this article was the three phases of a group support system and how they can be beneficial to a group. The group support system has three phases. By using the electronic brainstorming software, people are able to record their ideas that all members can see in order to contribute to the brainstorming. This makes is easy for everybody to contribute their own ideas and bounce off of other people’s thoughts. The next step is the use of an issue analyzer which allows the members of the group system to identify the key items form the ideas presented allowing information from other sources to be. The final phase of the group support system is a voting tool which provides methods for prioritizing the key items found in the previous phase. This can be very beneficial in today’s world when it comes to meeting conferences or anything that involves a group. I think that there is also a lot of potential for this in the future.

    The last point that I took away from this article is that the role of age plays a large role in the technological evolution. In today’s world, it is easy to see the gap between technological knowledge in generations. Most people from my generation are very well versed in technology, its abilities, and how to use it. However, you can see the older generations struggling with technology at its basic uses. Today, you see grandchildren teaching their grandparents how to use Facebook, and students showing their professors how to pull up a YouTube video on their computers. The younger generations have a better ability to adapt to the new and diverse technology, however I think now and in the future the older generations will continue to try to advance their knowledge of technology.

  13. 1) One of the main points that Talbott makes in “The Future Does Not Compute” Chapter 10, is the idea that group support systems are time efficient due to how directly they get a message across. The group system, developed at the University of Arizona to facilitate meetings, was successful because of “the preciseness of the process procedures,” which gave them an advantage because it records each thought into minutes for the meeting, which cold be referred back to at any time. The group was able to focus on the key points and discard irrelevant discussion, by projecting their thoughts and results in the meeting.
    2) Talbott noted another main point being that these technologies are bound to have their flaws, despite what the inventors may say. Some researchers believe disadvantages come with group systems, such as the fact that “most people cannot type as fast as they speak.” The meeting is slowed down unless there are approximately eight or more participants, and “the system is useless for “one-to-many” forms of communication”. If a person is lecturing, the typing time vs. speaking time would be too far off to be efficient for each individual to follow at the same rates.
    3) A final theory proposed by Talbott this chapter is how the information presented can relate to what technology is today. Sometimes it seems that technology is too focused on shortcuts which can make it seem like an easy way out. If every technological advancement is moving towards “productivity, time-to-solution,” technology will start to take the place, and do the work requiring skills that humans were previously needed for obsolete.I am interested to see how far technology advances in this directions, allowing humans to take a step back and watch machines think on their own is certainly interesting.

  14. Nivek Johnson

    There many takeaways you could get from the chapter:
    First-
    Group Decision Making Software/Tools are the future. They provide simplistic methods to help support the brainstorming stage especially. The software allows for participants thoughts to be fully counted for, verses in face to face conversation depending on the context of the situation many of their thoughts could be deferred from the consistent noise of others. I think it also allowed to say this a quicker way to get tasks done. So overall the software allows all opinions to be heard.
    Second-
    With all technology there will always come some sort of benefits and risks involved. The Brainstorming Software has many benefits for example “provides an equal opportunity for participation;
    discourages behavior that can negatively impact meeting productivity” In my opinion, I feel that messages or opinions over the software could be taken out of context. It boils down to the person no being able to communicate to their full potential. For example, they may not be able to type their full message in timely manner, which might result in constant clarification which then would lead to confusion. Another, is how people my read your opinions, it may come off more abrasive then would if you were communicating face to face. So overall with the technology there are some risks.
    Third –
    I see us using this technology in the future. I think what would have to be greater looked at is the role of software engineering (as stated in the article) I think with good software engineering some of the limitations that are being stated now, could be worked out to provide a smoother technological resource for decision makers. Also maybe a way that some of the risks could be tackled. I for see more technology taking off similar too this one as we move forward in to the 21st Century.

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