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A Better Solution????

(Decision-making/Problem Solving)


Form groups of 8 people (2 groups) in a circle. Each person in the group must think of a job-related problem or communication problem they encountered this week or fairly recently. Do not discuss this problem with group members, instead write down your problem on a sheet of paper and fold the paper when you are through.

Examples of a problem might be, "How can I get more group-involvement?"

When time is called the instructor will ask you to pass your problem to the person to your right. That person will read the problem just received and jot down the first thoughts that come to mind in addressing that problem. Only 30 seconds is given to respond to that individual sheet.

Repeat this process every 30 seconds that time is called until each person gets his/her own sheet back. Then the discussion will begin of the more practical solutions offered.

Discussion questions:

  1. Did anyone discover novel solutions that you had not previously considered?
  2. Can you see any value in trying some of these suggestions?
  3. Do some of these suggestions trigger other ideas or solutions?
  4. What lesson does this teach us about reaching out to others for their assistance?

Where’s the Fire



Assume that you are at your desk or workstation when the firm alarm sounds. Over the public address systems, your boss announces that each person is to vacate the premises in one minute! He/she states that each person is allowed to bring with them a maximum of five items from their offices. They must be items that can be carried out with them (i.e. no desks, water coolers, desktop computers, etc.)

"In the next 60 seconds, write down those items you have decided to take with you."



Discussion Questions:

  1. How easy or difficult was it to select five items?
  2. Of the items selected picked, how many were job-related as opposed to those of a personal nature (i.e. family picture?)
  3. How many of you had difficulty even picking 4-5 items to take with you?
  4. Why did you pick the items you did?
  5. In what domains of your work life do you regularly prioritize items? Why or why not?


Individual vs. Team Success


Everyone is to rank-order the ten items on the attached form. Rank the items from 1-10 (1=highest, 10=lowest) according to the degree to which workers nationwide considered that reason "very important" in deciding to take their current job. Results should be entered in column 2.

Break up into your small group assigned last week and repeat the process, with the ranking numbers placed in column 4.

Now, notice the key displayed on the instructor’s projector. Enter those numbers in column 3 on your sheets. Now, compute the absolute arithmetic differences between each of their item rankings and the key (without regarding the positive or negative sign). Do this for both the individual and group rankings.

Add up the totals.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Who performed better, individuals or groups?
  2. What factors contribute to group success on tasks such as these?
  3. How can groups be used more productively at work to capitalize on their assets?
  4. What problems might groups be subject to on tasks such as these?