THE GOAL OF GROUPS WILL ALMOST ALWAYS FALL INTO ONE OF FOUR MAJOR CATEGORIES:
1.) To INTERPRET information.
Frequently, groups are asked to determine the meaning of certain information. For example, the Rogers Commission was asked to determine the cause of the disaster to the space shuttle Challenger, and to do so within 120 days. After this group had determined what happened and why, it was possible to design a solution. Teams of scientists are continually attempting to interpret facts and information. They have been trying to determine if the greenhouse effect exists, the real costs of various kinds of fuels for power generation, the impact of smoking on all sorts of health problems, and the sources of various diseases. Other groups are currently trying to interpret what the authors of various parts of the constitution really meant.
2.) To EVALUATE information.
Evaluations are special types of interpretations in which a comparison is made among two or more items, or a between particular item and a standard. Many groups are responsible for making value judgments. For instance, when a search committee is usually asked to select the best two or three candidates and present the basis for their selections so that the Board or other group with the power to decide can make an informed decision. Every organization must evaluate proposed new materials, procedures, and products. Usually an organizational group is responsible for making these evaluations.
3.) In PROBLEM SOLVING.
A small group may be responsible for solving a specific problem or a range of problems. As its output, such a group may produce advice to a different group with the authority to take action, or may have freedom to take the action itself. The end product is a specific course of action to correct some unsatisfactory situation such as an unbalanced budget, deaths from second-hand smoke, or a fox that has been eating the chickens. Some problem solving groups are created to deal with any problem of a specific type occurring in the organization, others to create new products, or to carry out some plan formulated by another group.
4.) To establish a general POLICY to govern future actions of a group.
A policy is a set of standards, procedures, or guidelines for members of an organization to follow when making decisions and taking actions. Thus a policy combines elements of a criterion or standard and a formal rule. For instance, a company may have a policy of promoting managers from within instead of hiring from outside. Management may have a general policy of employee involvement in creating new products, or of no employee involvement in such matters. a government may have a general policy of central planning of production, or of a market driven economy. A club may have a policy of dropping from membership anyone who misses three meetings in a year. As you have probably already seen, agreement on interpretation and applicable values must be reached before a group is likely to agree on either a general policy or a solution to a specific problem.
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