Decisions, Decisions
WaltHopkins,CastleCons ultants
To help a group examine the cross-cultural dimensions of decision making and prepare to
work together by coming to agreement about how they will cooperate, given their differences
Any group of individuals or teams who must make decisions across cultural lines. Works
best with groups of five to nine. If you have more than eight or nine in the total group, form
multiple groups.
This can go as long as you like (30—120 minutes), depending on your time and skill in
dealing with a group and the importance of the objectives and length of time that they will be
working together.
Flipcharts and markers for the number of groups you have
Adequate room space for the groups to work separately
1. Assign groups if you need to have more than one.
2. Ask people in each group to stand at a flipchart. Tell them to begin this task: List all the
ways that we as a group can make a decision.
3. After about 10 or 15 minutes, ask them to: Choose the ONE way of making a decision that
you prefer to use as a group.
4. When they have finished or when it seems that they are stalemated, call everyone together
for a debriefing.
1. If participants were able to work through the frustration, then you can, when debriefing,
help them examine their process. Ask questions like:
“How difficult was it to develop and maintain a democracy?”
“Did you slip into less democratic options? What happened?”
2. At some point (unless a group member has already pointed it out), ask the group:
“What method did you use to make the decision about what way you wanted to decide?
Was it the same? Different? How?”
3. The exercise also reveals other cultural dimensions. You can refresh the group experience
to illustrate these points now, or in later learning or group work, by asking:
“What other things occurred that might be clues to cultural differences (your
preferences for authority, independence, trust, time, etc.)?”
“How were these differences handled? Do you feel satisfied with the solutions you
found? If not, how could they have been better?”
4. Unless you are moving on to another activity in these intact groups, summarize the
learnings and allow people to share final reactions and feelings about the activity.

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