Learning Activity 1 – Theme One
When and where are groups better than individuals to make a decision? Discussion is the greatest difference between the group decision making process and an individual process.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Group Decision Making
After reading the material for this week review the following fact pattern and discuss the implications of individual and group decision making in this instance. Consider in the discussion who makes better decisions – individuals or groups! Does it make a difference as to what the subject matter of the decision is as to who would be a better fit to make the decision -an individual or the group? (E.g. would launching a new product be a time where group work might be more effective than individual?)
Address the pros and cons of individual vs. group decision making as exemplified by the fact pattern. Had Garrow been noted for making good decisions rather than no decision would your ideas on individual vs. group decision making be different? Be sure to relate the material to the facts of the case and to reference with in-page citations your remarks.
Fancy Food Products
Josh Johnson was delighted to accept a job in the Fancy Food Products, Inc., a multinational consumer food products corporation. Two months later, Josh was miserable. The problem was Gabriel Jones, the general manager in charge of the Ohio branch, to whom Johnson reported.
Jones had worked his way into the general manager’s position by “keeping his nose clean” and not making mistakes, which he accomplished by avoiding controversial and risky decisions. As Johnson complained to his wife, “Any time I ask him to make a decision, he just wants us to dig deeper and provide 30 more pages of data, most of which are irrelevant. I can’t get any improvements started.”
Jones seemed terrified of departing from the status quo, but Johnson was planning changes to the line of frozen breakfast foods he was in charge of and needed Jones support. While competitors were introducing new frozen breakfast products, Johnson clung to what was familiar—a 1990s package design and breakfast foods that were laden with fat and sodium. Sales were stagnating and grocers were giving shelf space to more successful products. Running out of patience and struggling to stay motivated, Johnson decided to make one last attempt to persuade Jones to revamp the frozen breakfast line. However, fate stepped in to help him along. Division head came to Jones and told him that they had three weeks to develop a new breakfast line or they would lose the whole project and there department would be cut.
Jones called Johnson in and told him that he had two weeks to make his case for a new line. If they could persuade him of their new ideas he would make the decision in their favor. If not he would make the decision and report it to the decision head.
Johnson and his team went to work, scrambling to pull together the extensive data he knew would be required to make Jones feel comfortable rolling out a new line of frozen breakfast foods for the health-conscious consumer.
For the next week and half, Johnson and two product managers worked extensive overtime, gathering data and developing a plan. They studied competitors, researched consumer breakfast habits, and hired a Chicago design firm to mock up a new package design. They even met with a dietician to analyze the fat and sugar content of the most popular breakfast foods and develop healthier options. Believing he had a solid plan, Johnson then held focus groups to fine-tune the final details of the plan. The team decided the following products would be the best course of action for the short turnaround time needed to produce the products: a low-fat, low-sugar frozen breakfast items: a home-style, organic wheat waffle and a breakfast sandwich made of low-fat yogurt and whole wheat cereal wafers.
Jones made his made the presentation of his ideas to Johnson, he replied “You know, this is a huge investment, Josh. Is your team sure of the choices. I have researched this a little but have not run the data like you but I think that a low-carb option or something that the teenagers might like would be a different approach. You didn’t mention them in your presentation. They don’t even eat breakfast, do they? Can you get me some answers to these questions? I know we only have a few days left before I make my decision but this needs to be done right.”
Learning Activity 1 – Theme One