Group decision making may be hard, but there are tools to ease the situation.
On many occasions, people make decisions not on their own but as a part of a group of people. A major issue in group decision making is how to deal with conflicting preferences of group members. How is it possible to resolve the conflict and produce a single recommendation to a group?
There already exist some platforms or group decision support environments to ease the situation on some occasions, such as Doodle and Vern used for coordinating meeting times, Smartocracy providing support for voting scenarios, and Dotmocracy offering a method for collecting and visualising group preferences.
Some of the researchers in the OpenReq team have a history of studying group decision making and testing such tools as Choicla. Choicla offers the possibility for a flexible definition of domain-independent decision scenarios. It supports the determination of recommendations for groups and includes mechanisms to counteract decision biases.
In private settings Choicla may, for instance, be used to select a restaurant or a hotel for a holiday trip with friends, whereas in industrial settings it may well be used to select a conference location or evaluate project proposals.
In an empirical study conducted by researchers in the OpenReq team, groups of students were given the task to make a decision about exam topics. The groups received a varied amount of recommendations from other group members. The results of the study show, for instance, that increased recommendation diversity leads to an increased degree of information exchange among group members.
One of the aims of the OpenReq team is to further develop group decision making tools and technologies for more complex products and services. The team is on its way to develop a tool called the OpenReq Prototype which is a release planning component.
Studies on existing tools already show encouraging results. Conflicting preferences can be coordinated and resolved even in more complex settings.