New resource will help voluntary sector organisations work together to tackle challenges on the road to recovery
A new practical resource has been published this week by Nesta’s Centre for Collective Intelligence Design to help leaders and managers in the voluntary sector to improve decision-making and outcomes as they look to rebuild and redesign services in the wake of the pandemic.
Collective intelligence uses new technology to harness the ideas and skills of the public and the resource outlines how to use this effectively for group decision-making.
The resource is especially timely as third sector organisations begin to develop new ways of responding to the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. According to Nesta, as they face these, and wider challenges it's more important than ever for third sector bodies to make good decisions. It’s also designed to support better team work and communications within organisations, which has become more critical than ever now the age of remote working looks set to continue.
The resource draws on examples of when group decision-making could have averted high profile incidents like the attack on the Twin Towers, where investigations have since shown that the failure to spot early clues and the subsequent errors of judgement by the intelligence community were associated with a lack of diversity in the groups who were making decisions at the CIA.
How to make good group decisions demonstrates how group decision-making can inspire new ways to solve problems and make a big difference to ways of working, especially when budgets and resources are more constrained than ever. According to Nesta, access to more information, expertise and ideas can give a group advantages over individual decision-makers. Teams that get it right are more productive, innovative and happier as a result.
With practical top tips and common pain points to watch out for, the resource is designed to equip managers and leaders with the skills they need to make good decisions by tapping into the collective intelligence inside their organisations and beyond. From the importance of diversity to the impact of the size of a group, How to make good group decisions, lays out the key principles for good group decision-making. Taking managers through the entire decision-making process, it can support managers with:
● How to reach decisions in a group - from delegating the final decision to one person to developing a consensus rule, the guide lays out six different ways of reaching decisions in groups and when each one should be used
● How to get the composition and dynamics of a group right, from how to ensure good communication with most teams working remotely to using conflict to your advantage and how to ensure cohesion
● How to manage uncertainty - learning from responses to the pandemic, the guide looks at how to make decisions in a climate of uncertainty and what you can and can’t control
● How to avoid pitfalls at each stage of the decision-making process, from goal setting to implementation
The Centre for Collective Intelligence Design argues that collective intelligence can help make our services better and more inclusive and that it should be part of how any institution thinks about solving problems in the 21st century.
Aleks Berditchevskaia, resource author and principal researcher at the Centre for Collective Intelligence Design at Nesta, said: “We know collective intelligence and tools such as group decision-making are vital in extending our problem-solving capacity, and it can play a key role in combatting the complex issues caused by Covid-19.
“We all know two brains are better than one but how do you get the most out of team decision-making whilst avoiding group think? Working in diverse groups can significantly increase your pool of information and ideas and allow for new ways of doing things. Too often organisations fail to take advantage of these techniques, despite the difference they’d make. Instead, we follow the same old approaches, with no different results.
“Working more openly and collaboratively requires public and third sector bodies to develop new capabilities and procedures. We want to support the sector to meet this challenge. It doesn’t need to be about big structural changes but testing new ways of doing things and adopting the most effective.”