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Ch 7 Exercises

Page history last edited by Terri Kachinsky 9 years, 7 months ago

Chapter 7 Exercises:  Collaborative Decision Making


Exercise 1  

Learning Objective: Student will learn the different categories of collaboration patterns and the appropriate Thinklet to enable the pattern.


Problem: For each collaborative pattern find a Thinklet that will enable this pattern.


Collaboration Pattern

Collaboration Pattern Description

Thinklet Enabling this pattern


Move from having fewer ideas to having more concepts in the pool of concepts shared by the group



Move from having many concepts to a focus on fewer concepts that the group deems worth of further attention



Move from having less to having more shared understanding of the concepts the group is considering



Move from less to more e understanding of the relationships among the concepts the group is considering



Evaluate Move from less to more understanding of the relative value of the concepts under consideration


Build Consensus

Move from having fewer to having more group members who are willing to commit to a proposal




List of Thinklets to Classify




Each participant browses a subset of brainstorming ideas.  Participants take

turns proposing an idea from the collection to be added to a public list of

ideas deemed worthy of further consideration.  Group discusses meaning,

but not merits of the proposed idea.  Facilitator adds concise, clear version of the idea to the public list.


Group browses a collection of brainstorming ideas. First participant

adds an idea to the public list. For each subsequent addition, the proposer argues why the new idea is better than those already on the list. Facilitator writes a concise, clear version of the idea on the public list. Facilitator also keeps a list of the criteria used by the participants.


Categories with ideas are assigned to subgroups and the subgroups clean up the ideas before reporting back to the entire group.


All Participants brainstorm in parallel on a single topic and add their contributions to a single, shared public space


Participants brainstorm in parallel on single or multiple sub-topics.  After each contribution, participants randomly swap contribution sheets.  Participants can only see the contributions on the page they are working on, after swapping they are able to see the contributions on the next page that is received


Participants brainstorm in parallel on multiple sub-topics, where each sub-topic is set up as a OnePage Thinklet.  Participants choose the sub-topics to which they will contribute.  Used to generate, in parallel, ideas in depth and detail on a focus set of topics.


Participants brainstorm in parallel on multiple sub-topics, where each sub-topic is set up as a OnePage Thinklet.  The facilitator chooses the topics to which each participant will contribute.

Comparative Brainstorm

Participants follow the rules of FreeBrainstorm with the additional goal of making each new contribution better along some specific dimension than the previous contribution on that page.


Participants review a page of contributions for clarity.  When  participant judges a contribution to be vague or ambiguous, s/he requests clarification.  Other group members offer explanations, and the group agrees on a definition.  If necessary, the group revises the contribution to better convey its meaning.


Participants move ideas from a generic list to a specifically distinguished and labeled clusters.  They work in parallel on a first come first served basis.


To provoke a focused discussion about issues where the group has a low consensus.  After a vote, the moderator draws the group's attention to the items with the most disagreement.  Group members discuss the reasons why someone might give an item a low rating.  The resulting conversation reveals unchallenged assumptions, unshared information, conflicts of goals, and other information useful to moving toward consensus.


Moderator posts a page of underevaluated contributions.  Participants are instructed to rate each item on a designated scale using designated criteria.  Participants are told that they are not making a decision, just getting a sense of the group's opinions to help focus subsequent discussion.


Participants view a page containing a collection of ideas, perhaps from an earlier brainstorming activity.  They work in parallel, moving the ideas they deem most worthy of more attention from the original page to another page



To continuously track the level of consensus within the group with regard to the issue currently under discussion.


Moderator posts a page of unevaluated contributions.  Participants are instructed to rate each item on a designated scale using designated criteria.  Participants are told that they are not making a decision, just getting a sense of the group’s opinions to help focus subsequent discussion.



The group verifies that the proper categorization of ideas and concepts.


Soliciting ratings from members based on evaluation criteria.  The result of a MultiCriteria is an average score of each solution per criteria.  Total per criteria indicates how well the solutions score compared to each other.  Decisions with very low scores are eliminated.



Eliminate the least important ideas from a large set.


Participants brainstorm to identify plus/minus/interesting points of a set of ideas that were created in a previous step or that were created in advance as input for the activity.


Pairs of team members extract a list of key ideas on assigned topics from a raw set of brainstorming comments


Instead of working in parallel, participants jointly decide what action should be taken; e.g. joint organizing, joint clarification/rephrasing, joint evaluation.  One participant serves as chauffeur for the group, actually taking the action in accordance with the wishes of the group. While parallel work can be more efficient than chauffeured work, in some cases it is more valuable to ensure shared understanding and to reach mutually acceptable agreements than it is to be more efficient -- remove overlap among ideas to create a unique set


Exercise 2

Learning Objective:   Planning collaborative meeting using thinklets



You have been selected to run a meeting as a facilitator ( a job you have never done) .  Plan your meeting using the matrix of collaborative patterns and thinklets developed for each of the following types of meetings.

Need to come up with 5 or more common meeting types for the student to prepare for.   For each one need to fill out the grid below providing the thinklet that is going to be used to enable the collaborative pattern of communication.


Possible examples include

  • Software metrics estimate
  • Organizing a work outing
  • Requirements solicitations meeting
  • Agile software design meeting
  • User experience improvements


Collaboration Pattern

Thinklets  enabler











Build Consensus




Critical Thinking Questions:


  1. What is the impact of Symbolic Convergence theory on group collaboration?


  1. Compare and contrast Brigg’s and Straus’ decision making techniques.  What industries or types of projects would benefit from Briggs model?  Straus’ Model?


  1. Discuss the benefits of team building in the collaboration process.


  1. How are the core principles of negotiation implemented within the CRACK criteria?


  1. Consensus is benefit of any decision making process.  How does consensus compare or differ from groupthink?


  1. What are the primary differences between a facilitator and a team leader/project manager?


  1. What are the risks associated with using polling techniques to make decisions?



Case Study:


Learning Objective: Evaluating the Straus 6 Phase Problem Solving Model and demonstrate understanding of Consensus from Chapter 7



A group of Directors of a mid size company are evaluating the use of a new software program to improve document management across the organization.  The decision process consisted of multiple meetings, however three particular meetings were key in the decision making process.


During the first meeting, James Sanders VP of Epic Causes Inc. is aware his organization struggles with document management. He frequently sees multiple versions of documents, revisions are missed, and changes to documents cannot easily be extracted.  In the meeting with his directors, he expresses these concerns and asks for a solution to be proposed within the next 3 months.  Few questions were asked but the directors knew that this is an important project if recognized by the less than tech savvy VP.


The second meeting the directors got together to again discuss the issue.  They spent considerable time discussing other reasons that this project was necessary, followed by a brainstorming session to determine requirements. The directors demonstrated that they understood why this was a problem, the reasons document management was a struggle, and how it impacts the organization.  They took it upon themselves to identify the key users of the software, as well as the roles that would be included in the implementation.  With these elements identified, they worked hard to determine potential document management systems on an individual basis in order to regroup and discuss options at a follow-up meeting.


 During the third meeting, emotions were high and leaders began presenting the software applications they deemed appropriate for the organization.  Applications discussed ranged in complexity from Dropbox and Adobe Reviewer, to discussing customized applications including a version of Microsoft SharePoint.  With a flood of options and a deadline approaching within the next week, the leaders were unable to make a decision.  Everyone was pulling for their individually selected software and was not open to other options.  After hours of being unproductive, the final verdict was decided by putting the application names in a hat and selecting one to deliver to the VP of Epic Causes. 


Review the discussion questions as follows: 


  • Based on Straus’ 6 phase problem solving model, what components were demonstrated effectively?
  • What components of Straus’ 6 phase problem solving model were not demonstrated effectively?
  • What was the impact of not following the decision making process on the team?
  • What was the impact of not following the decision making process on the project?



Works Cited


Gwendolyn L. Kolfschoten, Eric L. Santanen "Reconceptualizing Generate thinkLets: the Role of the Modifier"

Proceedings of the 40th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences - 2007

Robert J. Harder, Jean M. Keeter, Bryan W. Woodcock, Janice W. Ferguson, Frederick W. Wills, "Insights in

Implementing Collaboration Engineering" Proceedings of the 38th Hawaii International Conference on

System Sciences - 2005

Ann Fruhling, Lucas Steinhauser, Gregory Hoff, Christopher Dunbar, "Designing and Evaluating Collaborative

Processes for Requirements Elicitation and Validation", Proceedings of the 40th Hawaii International

Conference on System Sciences - 2007


Alanah J. Davis, Gert-Jan de Vreede, and Robert O. Briggs, "Designing ThinkLets for Convergence"
Proceedings of the Thirteenth Americas Conference on Information Systems, Keystone, Colorado,

August 09th-12th 2007


Amit V. Deokar, Gwendolyn L. Kolfschoten, Gert-Jan de Vreede, "Prescriptive Workflow Design for

Collaboration-intensive Processes using the Collaboration Engineering Approach", © 2008, Global Institute

of Flexible Systems Management

Robert O. Briggs, Gert-Jan de Vreede, Jay F. Nunamaker, Jr.,David Tobey, “ThinkLets: Achieving Predictable,

Repeatable Patterns of Group Interaction with Group Support Systems (GSS)”, Proceedings of the 34th Hawaii

International Conference on System Sciences - 2001


Gwendolyn L. Kolfschoten,  Jaco H. Appelman, Robert O. Briggs, Gert-Jan de Vreede, “Recurring Patterns of

Facilitation Interventions in GSS Sessions”, Proceedings of the 37th Hawaii International Conference on System

Sciences - 2004



DE SOFTWARE”, Universidad del Cauca Carlos Fabián Parra Nieto


Comments (2)

Charles Fritz said

at 9:36 pm on Nov 1, 2010

The exercise was relevant and informative in my opinion and the length was just right. Remember to finish the list of common thinklets and verify spacing between paragraphs and tables is correct. The case study was well written. I think you should make a table based on your questions with each column being the question and each role being one of the Status 6 phases of problem solving. When the table is completed the answerer would have a good understanding of the solution he or she is proposing. Two questions that I feel could be added if need be are Six steps to facilitate collaborative decision meetings and Core Principles of Negotiation. Other than that this was well done.

M Cervantes said

at 2:28 pm on Nov 1, 2010

Complete the TBD: list of common thinklets.
Create a break or header to the Thinklets exercise 2 so that it is more visible to the audience it blends with the first exercise even though it is related to the first exercise.
I think a pre-written case study may be better because it may provide more background information to use Straus' 6 phase problem solving model.

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