Ratification Strategy

The complexity of a decision increases geometrically with the number of people involved. Large teams attempting to use group decision making processes can become embroiled and effectively immobilized by this complexity.

A ratification strategy can be used. Ratification is approving a result or recommendation of another. To use this strategy a subgroup is formed to address an issue and return to the larger group with a firm recommendation.

Reducing the number of people with a subgroup simplifies the process. Requiring consensus among these people can help insure that all people in the subgroup are deeply involved. It is reasonably certain that the recommendation of such a subteam will be well and thoroughly considered.

When presented to the larger group, the members of the subgroup will be in a much stronger position to argue their case than members of the group ratifying the decision. This creates a bias toward the group's recommendation. This means that unless something is seriously wrong, they are likely to have their recommendation approved.

In addition, the group is likely to act as a coalition. The well-versed members will tend to support each other. This further limits the ability of the larger group to dismiss or modify the recommendation.

The advantages of this strategy in larger groups is lower cost. Fewer people means that complexity decreases. Decision time is also shortened since the interests of fewer people is involved. The ability to challenge the decision or recommendation is preserved by the larger group but is controlled.

A ratification strategy should be kept in mind whenever group decision making is being contemplated. They should be automatically called upon whenever the team as a whole exceeds about 5 people. At that level the number of transaction channels between the participants begins to reach unmanageable levels.

Gary Salton

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