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Groups are good to share information but not so good to make decisions

A knee-jerk reaction for some general counsel who face a management challenge is to set up a team to study the challenge and recommend what to do. It is engrained in all of us that a group does better than an individual. That may be an urban myth.

“Groups are important to share information, but when people need to make decisions, they’re not good.” That is the conclusion of Dan Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics at Duke University, in an interview in MIT Sloan Mgt. Rev., Vol. 50, Winter 2009 at 58. He adds later that “Groups are not helpful in getting people to make better decisions, but they’re helpful in getting people to .feel more confident about the decisions they’ve made.”

Managers of in-house counsel may find this hard to accept, but assign an individual to tackle a task, and use groups for what they do well: learn and buy in.

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