As part of a course module I took weeks ago, we carried some exercises on the composition and dynamics of teams. To respond to the question “Do teams make better quality decisions?” we did the following exercise:
Individually, we had to classify 13 professions according to the trustworthiness they inspired on each one of us (1 for the most trustworthy, 13 for the least). Then, we were grouped in teams and had to agree on a common new ranking (*). Then we checked both of our rankings with the ones provided by Ipsos MORI in a recent Veracity Index [PDF, 50kB].
See below the different rankings and relative deviations:
The individual ranking is my ranking in this case.
The aim of the test is to check if the deviation between the individual ranking and the MORI one is higher than the deviation of the team ranking compared to the MORI one. That is the case with me (46) and my team (32) in the exercise. This is done to prove that the collective thinking will produce a better decision.
I still have trouble with the findings. It is obvious that the team decision provides a more balanced decision, the larger the group, the more balanced it is. But confess that I struggle to accept it as better or of a better quality.
To give you food for thought I emphasized in bold those professions in which the deviations were higher:
- Ordinary people: who I found way more trustworthy than my team members did.
- Scientists: who I find more trustworthy (1) than the MORI test does (6).
- Business leaders: who both my team and I trust more than the MORI responders do.
- Clergymen: which I found the least trustworthy (13), as opposed to the high ranking given by society (4).
- Television news readers: who society at large finds more reliable than my team and I do.
Try yourself the test and see what you find :-).
(*) In my group we opted for calculating first arithmetic averages and re-rank the professions and then we made two adjustment at the request of one member, a compromise the other two members agreed on.
3 responses to “Do teams make better quality decisions?”
I think that you what you found is “The Wisdom of the Crowds” Check out this fun video on the topic by NOVA scienceNOW
By the way, I did a similar experiment and it didn’t work… You need good team processes, listening, dialogue and plenty of time!
I’ve just watched the video, it has a very good point. Indeed I have taken part in the same experiment at the museum of science of Geneva, where visitors could enter their guess for the weight of a die into a computer (you can see the description here). I think that the results are not yet available, but I’ll love to see them, and how far I was with my estimate from the real exact weight 😉
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