Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Posts Tagged ‘groupware

Making decisions in a group

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Groups have different processes for making decisions—some wait for consensus, others vote, and in others the leader decides. I found, long ago, a little DOS program called “Best Choice” that greatly simplified group decision-making. Using it consisted of a few simple steps:

List the possible options or choices from which you are to select.

List the criteria you will use to evaluate those.

Weight the criteria as you want—that is, assign a number to each criterion to indicate how heavily it should weigh in the final decision. (You actually can do this using the program: do a run with the criteria being the choices, using the sole criterion “Importance.” After going through the decision routine, the result will be the weights for the criteria, in the judgment of the group.)

List the people who will be evaluating the options according to the criteria.

Weight the individuals as you want—again, assign a number to each person to see how much weight to give his or her opinions. (For example, an expert in the field might be given a greater weight than someone who knows little about the matter.) One nice thing: you can change the weights of the deciders to see what effects that would have, and if you weight all but one as zero, you can see how that one person ranked the choices.

The program then presents each decider with a set of pairs of the options for each criterion. Each decider than selects which of each pair is “better” given the criterion being considered.

Note the simplification: instead of considering the whole range of choices and criteria, the decision becomes a series of small decisions between two choices using a single criterion. These decisions are easily and quickly made.

The program then uses those choices and the weights (of criteria and of decision makers) to rank the choices, showing the “value” of each option. Sometimes a group of options will have values that are close—more or less tied—and sometimes options will have values that are far apart.

It works quite well, and now there’s a Windows version available. You can view a demo of it here.

One example: I was leading a major software project, and I wanted to minimize the risks. So I brought the team together for a brainstorming session: “Assume the project has failed. What problem was the cause of failure?” We produced a list of possible problems. I then used the program and listed the problems and two criteria: How likely is the problem to happen, and how big an impact would the problem have if it did happen.

Each team member then went through the random pairings of problems, first evaluating each pair and indicating which one of each pair was more likely to happen, and then going through another set of pairs indicating which one of each pair would have a greater impact if it did happen. The program then ranked the problems based on the input of the entire team (appropriately weighted) and we had our risk factors identified in terms of their danger.

I’ve also used it to pick vacation spots, cat names, cars, and so on.

UPDATE: Link fixed.

Written by Leisureguy

22 August 2008 at 3:20 pm

Projjex: groupware

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Thanks to commenter Leah for pointing out Projjex, a Web 2.0 application for group projects. At the link is a video that explains its use, and it really seems well conceived and designed. Have any of you been using this? What do you think?

Written by Leisureguy

20 April 2008 at 8:09 am

Posted in Business, Software

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Wrike is a great product name, isn’t it? It could be almost anything. A commenter (thanks, Sam) pointed out the site. It looks quite interesting—an on-line project management package, using emails, creating reports, and so on. For the average home user, it’s free. Here’s the pricing, and I really like how they’re quite straightforward about this—they don’t try to hide the price, or disguise the pricing. It’s all out in the open, which creates instant trust. They spell out the benefits, and elsewhere on the site you can see user stories. Take a look.

Written by Leisureguy

9 November 2007 at 10:22 am

Stixy: collaborate via Web 2.0

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Stixy is a free on-line way to share text, photos, PDFs, notes, to-dos, and what have you with a defined group: family, friends, workgroup, club, whatever. It looks as though it would be quite useful for a computer-oriented group.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2007 at 11:00 am

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