HAL works with the Executive Decision Centre at Queen’s University to provide computer-augmented meeting facilitation services.
The tools we provide are collectively known as Group Decision Support Software (GDSS) and they are designed to enable a group of participants to work interactively in an electronic environment. GDSS systems help users to solve complex problems, prepare detailed plans and proposals, resolve conflicts, and analyze and prioritize issues effectively. They are excellent in situations involving visioning, planning, conflict resolution, team building, and evaluation.
Each participant has a computer terminal from which they interact with the rest of the group. The computers are networked so that each individual’s screen is private, but the information they enter is displayed anonymously on a public screen.
A typical GDSS session includes four phases:
- Idea Generation
- Idea Consolidation
- Idea Evaluation
- Implementation Planning
GDSS does not replace human interaction, but rather supports and enhances the group’s decision making process; typically 30% of interactions take place on the computers.
- More information in less time: Since GDSS allows group members to contribute in parallel, significantly more information can be gathered in a shorter period.
- Greater Participation: The anonymity provided by GDSS enables group members to express themselves freely, reducing the risk of ‘group think’ and conformance pressure. The loudest voice need not dominate the discussion.
- More structure: More focused and concentrated discussions result with GDSS than would be possible in traditional meetings. Irrelevant digressions are minimized.
- Automated Documentation: Comments are never forgotten, results are available immediately, and excellent graphics make it easy to see (and therefore discuss) areas of dispute.
- Strategic Planning – Analyze the environment, develop a vision, identify objectives, and build action plans
- Project Evaluation – Assess objectives achievement, impacts, relevance, cost effectiveness, and future directions
- Focus Groups and Expert Panels – Elicit opinions and understand needs
- Conflict Resolution – Compare points-of-view, understand differences, and seek common ground
- Problem Solving – Identify causes, suggest alternatives, choose solutions, and develop implementation plans