Understanding how group decisions are made and how they relate to

Purpose: 

Understanding how group decisions are made and how they relate to individual decision-making is especially important to the success of a business in today’s decision-making environment. Employees who have strong group decision-making skills allow businesses to make high-risk decisions faster and in a more manageable way.  Therefore, it is critical to become competent in the skill of group decision-making along with that of individual decision-making.  

This project is designed to introduce you to the differences between group and individual decision-making, and when it is most appropriate to use each to achieve the best results for the situation at hand.  The project also seeks to have you demonstrate how bias can affect group decision making and how individual bias interferes with the group decision-making process.

This project is a case scenario in which you will create a PowerPoint presentation that addresses the advantages and disadvantages of individual and group decision making.  You will then discuss bias, risk and uncertainty. 

Outcomes:

  • Identify, discuss and apply when group decision-making works best.
  • Identify, discuss and apply when individual decision-making works best.
  • Apply biases that can shape group decision making.
  • Develop communication skills through use of technology.
  • Develop critical thinking through synthesis, analysis, evaluation and application to a real-world scenario.

Stephanie Swanson is the top salesperson for Jiffy Paper Company.  She also leads the sales team that supports Jiffy’s largest client, Acme Office Supplies. Acme is an international office supply chain that is growing rapidly.  During the month of May, Stephanie and her team members, Andy Monday and Stevie Nicks, underwent intense negotiations with Acme’s purchasing agent, John Sly and Acme’s CEO, to restructure the current sales contracts.  

The new contract spelled out Acme’s yearly paper requirements (contracted sales amounts) as well as payment and credit terms. The negotiations had been particularly hard for several reasons:

  • Acme’s sales had increased internationally causing shipping and custom duties to increase the cost to Jiffy that resulted in an increase in sales price to Acme;
  • The volume of sales directed to Acme required Jiffy to offer a volume sales discount to remain competitive with other paper companies;
  • Acme wanted a longer time to pay on the purchases.  Acme wanted 60 days to pay on orders invoiced rather than the current 30 days; 
  • Acme also wanted Jiffy to extend its current credit line from $850,000 to $1,250,000; 
  • Jiffy’s CEO was reluctant to tie so much of its cash flow to the success of Acme.  The concern was raised because in the last six months, Acme was paying down the credit line every 60 days rather than 30 days that was agreed upon in the current contract.  Acme did not appear to have credit issues but Jiffy was not in a position to give interest free loans for 60 days.

This week, in time for the Memorial Day holiday vacation the final agreement was reached between Jiffy and Acme.  Acme would contract to purchase $1,750,000 of paper products from Jiffy.  Invoice payment terms was 45 days, with a 3% interest on invoices paid later than 45 days.  The credit limit was extended to $1,000,000.  Stephanie was not completely happy with the contract, as she felt Jiffy was not protected from cash flow damage should Acme not pay timely, not to mention the large line of credit.  Still, the parties agreed, including her boss who was skeptical for the same reason as Stephanie. The parties were due to sign the contract on Tuesday after the Memorial Day holiday. 

On Friday evening, Stephanie was packing her belongings readying to leave the office for the Memorial Day holiday, when her cell phone pings.  The caller is John Sly, the Purchasing Agent for Acme. It appeared that a recent deal on Acme’s end with UMUC tripled its need for copy paper from Jiffy.  This deal would raise the total contract sales to $2.5 million.  Sly makes it clear that he wants to change the credit limit from $1 million to $1.5 million and to extend the payment terms from 45 days to 50 days.  Acme would not pay interest on late invoices until after 60 days.  Sly also makes it clear to Stephanie that if the new terms were not agreed on by the end of Friday evening, he is prepared to look at an offer supplied to him by Acme’s biggest competitor, King Paper.  Sly further states that while Acme is pleased with Jiffy’s work, money is always the most important factor in purchasing.  Acme’s President wants an immediate answer so he can go on vacation with a clear mind.  Stephanie is aware that most of John’s talk is a negotiating technique but does not doubt that there is competition waiting in the background.  Images of last month’s teamwork run through Stephanie’s mind as she listens to Sly talk.

Stephanie winced at the memory of her teammate Monday’s constant posturing in front of Sly and the Acme’s CEO.  She had hoped to be able to pick her own team when she was promoted to leader but that was not to be.  Andy Monday is a problem on this team.  All month long, he challenged her ideas in front of Acme’s CEO.  Stephanie knows that she was promoted over Monday because her sales record was 20% higher than his was and she could close a deal better than he could.  Monday resents her promotion and reminds Stephanie, as often as possible, that he brought in the Acme account and that he and Acme’s CEO have a great relationship.  They play golf together and often go to dinner together with their wives.  Stephanie thinks Monday is a good salesperson, but believes he should not be on this team. The tension is at times very thick especially during the negotiations this month. Monday seemed to want to give away the store. 

Unfortunately, Stevie Nicks seemed to be sitting on the fence when it came to the negotiations.  Stephanie had expected that Stevie would support her negotiation position with the client rather than Monday’s because it protected Jiffy.  Since Stevie was the niece of Jiffy’s owner and CEO, Stephanie believed she should be supportive of protecting the company’s money.  Still, Stevie was the one who came up with the idea of paying interest on the late invoices.  It just seemed to Stephanie that one day Stevie was agreeing with Monday and on another day with her.  Stephanie supposed that it was Stevie’s new position at the company that made her want to please everyone including Monday.  Stephanie believed that pleasing people is a nice gesture but does not add to the efficiency of the team’s decision-making.  Stephanie believed that Stevie w be looking for the general thoughts of the group so she could appear to agree with the group.

Overall, the month’s negotiation process had been long and difficult.  The thought of going over it all again to make the changes seemed mind-numbing to Stephanie.  Yet, making the decision on her own would mean obligating the company to an even greater cash flow commitment.  Her boss would not be happy with this obligation because he specifically warned her when they started that there was nothing to prevent Acme from continuing to pay its bills every 60 days despite the new contract agreement.  Stephanie rationalized and thought to herself, “Acme knows we are not likely to cut them off easily.  They are too big a customer to us.  However, the extra sales volume should offset the lost interest due for ten days on late invoices, 

Stephanie told Sly that he could tell the CEO that she would agree to the terms.  When Stephanie hung up the phone, she said aloud to nobody in particular, “I supposed I should have consulted the group but it was worth the risk of not having to make another team decision.”

Instructions:

How to Set Up the PowerPoint Presentation

Create a PowerPoint Presentation.  The final product will be no longer than 15 slides including the title page and reference page.  You will use the note section of the PowerPoint to discuss, explain and support the reasoning and conclusions for the information presented in each slide. 

The expectation is that each slide presented is more than a few sentences and contains in-text citations within the slide.  Explanation of the slide ideas should be in the note section. The analysis should support the ideas presented on the slides. 

The presentation will answer the question:

“Was Stephanie right in making the decision on her own and not waiting for the team?” 

In the presentation, you will:

  • Identify the advantages and disadvantages of individual decision-making.  Then, discuss how the advantages and disadvantages apply to the case scenario;
  • Identify the advantages and disadvantages of group decision-making.  Then, discuss how the advantages and disadvantages apply to the case scenario;
  • Identify the biases and explain how bias entered into Stephanie’s decision-making;
  • Discuss the risk and uncertainty associated with Stephanie making the decision individually rather than waiting for the group;
  • Provide a clear and concise answer to the assignment question “Was Stephanie right in making the decision on her own and not waiting for the team?”  Explain with no fewer than three reasons supported with the course material why the conclusion drawn is the best answer.
  • Once you have discussed the answer to the assignment question, “Was Stephanie right in making the decision on her own and not waiting for the team,?” discuss the reasoning for not selecting the other choice.  (For example, if you stated that Stephanie was right in making the decision individually, then explain why not waiting to make the group decision was the wrong choice).

Submit the PowerPoint in the Assignment Folder (The assignment submitted to the Assignment Folder will be considered a student’s final product and therefore ready for grading by the instructor.  It is incumbent upon the student to verify the assignment is the correct submission.  Exceptions will not be considered by the instructor).

Requirements for the Assignment

Before you begin creating the PowerPoint presentation, you will read the following requirements that will help you meet the requirements of the assignment.

Slides are to be presented logically and cleanly with balanced amounts of content for each slide (as opposed to one slide only having a few points to make while another may be overloaded with points).  Avoid using picture or images.

Presentation as a whole should flow well with each slide logically transitioning with the next slide.  Language used should be concise and specific.

All references should appear in a reference list at the end of the slide presentation.

Read and use the grading rubric for the project.  Use the grading rubric while completing the project to ensure all requirements are met that will lead to the highest possible grade.

Third person writing is required.  Third person means that there are no words such as “I, me, my, we, or us” (first person writing), nor is there use of “you or your” (second person writing).  If uncertain how to write in the third person, view this link:  http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/first-second-and-third-person.

Contractions are not used in business writing, so do not use them.

Use direct quotation marks when using primary source material.  Otherwise, paraphrase and do not use direct quotation marks.  What this means is that you are to put a passage from a source document into your own words and attribute the passage to the source document using an in-text citation and an associated reference that will appear in the reference list.  You may not use more than four consecutive words from a source document when paraphrasing.

All in-text citations must show the page or paragraph number of the source material. 

You may not use any books other than what may appear in the course readings as source material. 

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