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Group Problem Solving Skills Margaret J. Kupferle, PhD, PE Summer REU 2014 June 18, 2014.

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Presentation on theme: "Group Problem Solving Skills Margaret J. Kupferle, PhD, PE Summer REU 2014 June 18, 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 Group Problem Solving Skills Margaret J. Kupferle, PhD, PE Summer REU 2014 June 18, 2014

2 Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Based on work of Carl Jung First personality inventory developed by Isabelle Briggs Myers and her mother Katherine Briggs to help place women in jobs vacated by men in WWII MBTI in current form 1 st published in 1962 Widely used business tool – ~2 million assessments administered annually

3 On Myer-Briggs Type Indicator... Four categories (dichotomies) considered for how one: Gains/uses energy (Extraversion or Introversion) Gathers information (Sensing or Intuition) Makes decisions (Thinking or Feeling) Structures process (Judging or Perceiving)


5 You might be an extravert if you … feel comfortable taking a visible role like to tackle issues as they arise like to talk about it rather than read about it tend to act first, think later develop ideas “out loud” state thoughts (may be misconstrued as decisions) delegate liberally

6 You might be an introvert if you … feel comfortable working behind the scenes like to have advanced warning of issues do not like to be interrupted when deep in thought tend to think first, act later express conclusions after developing ideas stay silent (may be misconstrued as agreement) delegate sparingly

7 You might favor sensing if you … look for facts acquire details first, then build an overview focus on attaining tangible goals prefer precise instructions to general guidelines feel motivated by connecting current actions to immediate benefits

8 You might favor intuition if you … look for possibilities acquire overview first, then fit in facts focus on attaining conceptual goals prefer general guidelines to precise instructions feel motivated by connecting current actions to future possibilities

9 You might have a thinking preference if you … prefer a businesslike approach seek efficiency first focus first on areas of disagreement and flaws support the decision maker by supporting the decision making process are tough when necessary to keep things on track

10 You might have a feeling preference if you … prefer a friendly approach seek cooperation first focus first on areas of agreement and positives support the decision making process by supporting the decision maker are encouraging when necessary to keep things on track

11 You might have a judging preference if you … are goal-oriented, enjoy closure establish time frames and identify milestones expect to follow through and stick to the plan minimize interruptions and diversions in the interest of achieving the outcome

12 You might have a perceiving preference if you … are process-oriented, maintaining openness introduce broad parameters and suggest optimal outcomes expect to adapt and make adjustments to the plan respond to interruptions and diversions in the interest of enriching the outcome

13 Type-Oriented Goal Setting Tips Extraverts: Put it in writing and circulate it ahead of time if possible. Practice your listening skills, balance tendency to dominate discussions, solicit input from introverts once they have had some time to think about the problem. Introverts: Give extraverts “out-loud thinking space” and do not assume every word out of their mouth is a final conclusion.

14 Type-Oriented Goal Setting Tips Sensors: Don’t immediately dismiss “fanciful” ideas – may contain seeds of a creative solution! Try to see the “big picture”... iNtuitives: Pay attention to pitfalls, sensors may have important input wrt feasibility. Also, don’t ignore the present while looking into future possibilities...

15 Type-Oriented Goal Setting Tips Thinkers: Consider the “people” side of the equation – the most elegant rational solution may not be implemented due to the human factor Feelers: Don’t be afraid to “bite the bullet” and take an unpopular stand – disagreement is sometimes unavoidable and may be healthy. Don’t take things personally!

16 Type-Oriented Goal Setting Tips Judgers: Listen to alternatives – be aware of the need to budget time for exploration before driving straight for a solution. Perceivers: Focus on closure – decisions must often be made even though you do not have all the information – pay more attention to deadlines.

17 Type-Oriented Time Management Tips Extraverts: Avoid having to share every thought out loud Introverts: Don’t hold back your contributions, even if you see things very differently Sensors: Avoid “nitpicking” and remember there is more to time than minutes and seconds – think history and vision iNtuitives: Be realistic about how much you can get done in a given amount of time

18 Type-Oriented Time Management Tips Thinkers: Consider others’ time, allow time in the schedule for the needs of others Feelers: Define your boundaries to set aside blocks of time to accomplish tasks Judgers: Keep in mind that time is not always of the essence – may jeopardize project quality if do not allow enough time to evaluate alternative solutions Perceivers: Try to focus – limit number of projects and complete them before moving on

19 Conflict Resolution Skills Skills to prevent conflict when conflict is unnecessary or inappropriate when costs too high Ability to identify covert conflict when there is considerable power disparity between opponents Skills for negotiating an agreement when conflict should be resolved

20 Skills to Prevent Conflict (1) Developing procedures to increase group responsiveness to members Group develops procedures, not leader alone Include all group members in process Constructive criticism only – avoid disrespectful or personal remarks

21 Skills to Prevent Conflict (2) Early identification of potential conflicts Discuss competition issues (i.e. for group leadership role) early in process Ventilate negative feelings to group decision to group, not to individuals

22 Skills to Prevent Conflict (3) Using direct communication to avoid escalation of misunderstandings Seek clarification face-to-face in group Use lunch meetings or telephone to discuss outside of group rather than email

23 Skills to Prevent Conflict (4) Formalizing the dissenter role Group can elect a group dissenter (can rotate role each week) Dissenter responsible for articulating objections to options and bringing up disadvantages for discussion Useful when unequal power structure in group or discussion is not readily generated among members

24 Skills to Prevent Conflict (5) Exposing differences Note hesitations or puzzled looks from group members when stating tentative agreement Indicates possibility of divergent views

25 Skills to Prevent Conflict (6) Increasing conflict resolution skills Knowledge of methods for conflict resolution can prevent unnecessary conflict Conscious practice helps even more!

26 Ability to Identify Covert Conflict Strategies Use is most likely when unequal power between adversaries Powerful party uses to contain weaker party without cost of overt conflict Less powerful uses when resources for overt conflict inadequate when costs of direct confrontation unacceptably high

27 Covert Conflict Strategies (1) Negativism Appearance, body language, terseness may indicate disagreement, hurt or aggressiveness May generate retaliatory responses – isolation, ignoring, circumventing, dismissing Non compliance Simple non-cooperation Sabotage of group by inadequate implementation

28 Covert Conflict Strategies (2) Stonewalling Adamant refusal to comment about something Deceit Ranges from mild distortion to dishonesty and lying Includes misrepresentation, providing false information, withholding material

29 Covert Conflict Strategies (3) Disadvantaging Unfair arrangements of group meeting which put one of parties in weaker, more vulnerable position Seduction Use of enticements to influence outcome of conflict

30 Covert Conflict Strategies (4) Emotional extortion Threat of withdrawing from relationship as means of extorting compliance Divide and conquer Split solidarity of membership of opposing group

31 Skills for Negotiating an Agreement (1) Establishing issues List and order issues Gaining acceptance of one’s own definition of issues is key part of process

32 Skills for Negotiating an Agreement (2) Constructing the agenda Start with simple and tangible issue that will lead to mutually satisfactory outcome Early success builds confidence Generates positive momentum

33 Skills for Negotiating an Agreement (3) Establishing position Each side puts forth position Opening bid sets negotiating range Too high may discourage further negotiations create impression of incompetence Too low Concede too much initially

34 Skills for Negotiating an Agreement (4) Find underlying interest behind position Be clear in presenting own side’s position Identify interests of opponent Ask selves “Why are our opponents taking certain positions and rejecting others?”

35 Skills for Negotiating an Agreement (5) Exploring issues further Summarize opponent’s interests in a positive manner Identify areas of agreement Examine areas of disagreement Formulate options addressing areas of disagreement that provide gains for both sides – generating (vs. judging) options Broaden options on table before discussing

36 Skills for Negotiating an Agreement (6) Working out a final agreement Discuss options until recognize satisfactory result for all parties, believe other party has made all concessions possible or external pressure exists to arrive at a settlement

37 Skills for Negotiating an Agreement (7) Working out a final agreement If agreement not reached, have these options: Settle for partial agreement on some of points rather than overall solution Threaten to withdraw if final inclusive agreement not reached Coax opponents “we’ve come so far …” Use re-opener provision – adjourn and reexamine after set time period

38 Skills for Negotiating an Agreement (7) Accepting final agreement If problematic, consider consequences of reaching no agreement Each party identify best alternative if proposed agreement is not accepted

39 Group Problem Solving

40 Defining a problem Measuring the magnitude of the problem Developing a conceptual framework and vision Identifying and developing strategies Setting priorities and making recommendations Implementing recommendations and evaluating results Developing a communication strategy The process in detail.. The mechanics of conducting a group session are given in the following slides …

41 Leader Directs flow of group process Responsible for obtaining a balanced solution with input from all group members Mechanics of an ideal session (1a of 7) Choose leader, scribe/reporter, and timekeeper

42 Scribe/reporter Records key points and writes out the final solution to problem agreed upon by group Organizes/records notes at end of session and posts to Bb Presents final solution in next class discussion session Mechanics of an ideal session (1b of 7) Choose leader, scribe/reporter, and timekeeper

43 Timekeeper Keeps track of time in context of session plan agreed upon by group (next slide) Notifies group when time to move forward or revise session plan at consensus of leader and group Mechanics of an ideal session (1c of 7) Choose leader, scribe/reporter, and timekeeper

44 Clarify purpose of session Leader briefly states purpose of assignment Leader proposes steps to meet requirements Plan session Leader asks groups for suggestions on steps for group process and amount of time per step Group revises steps and sets time limit per step Mechanics of an ideal session (2 of 7)

45 Conduct session Create equal opportunities for participation Each group member has opportunity to participate – facilitated by leader Leader monitors group member participation and intervenes to increase participation by quiet or disenfranchised members Promote a wide range of options Mechanics of an ideal session (3 of 7)

46 Conduct session Reach consensus Leader and group members place similar options together under broad categories Determine level of agreement for each option Examine areas of disagreement Leader facilitates a discussion of the various positions about a given option – pros and cons Mechanics of an ideal session (4 of 7)

47 Reach “Creative Consensus” Group combines and compromises on options to arrive at a solution satisfactory to group Iterative process may be required – go back to generating more options if necessary If group cannot agree in time allocated, the area of disagreement should be noted and majority/minority views should be identified Mechanics of an ideal session (5 of 7)

48 Summarize/evaluate outcome At conclusion of session, leader states Group solution to problem Rationale for the solution Group revises solution and rationale as needed Gr oup discusses quality of solution to problem Mechanics of an ideal session (6 of 7)

49 Evaluate the process Leader asks individual group members to take a few minutes to write notes on their observations of process (for individual assignments and to gather thoughts) Leader asks group to discuss process – what worked and what did not Group identifies strategies to improve process in next group session Mechanics of an ideal session (7 of 7)

50 Acknowledgements Materials for this lecture were adapted from class materials for a Problem Solving in Public Health course prepared by Dr. Lisa Werthamer-Larsson at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, June 5-16, 2006. Dr. Werthamer-Larsson’s notes her materials were adapted from materials provided by Michael B. Kammerdiener, Consultant, Training & Organization Development

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