Collaborative decision-making usually refers to the process, when individual contributors are gathered to make decisions and to solve common problems. Although group decision-making is usually considered a more creative and productive approach, it is also prone to errors and inefficiencies. Thus, people may be reluctant or unable to present their opinions, powerful group leaders may force others to take a particular position, and the desire to avoid personal conflict may overweight the need to find the most favourable solution.
The most effective group thinking method, in my opinion, is electronic brainstorming. It combines the advantages of the traditional brainstorming techniques, but also avoids some of its pitfalls. Thus, electronic brainstorming helps to generate a large number of diverse ideas and to involve all the group members, while allowing people to bring up their ideas without waiting for their turn and minimising face-to-face interaction, which impedes creativity of some members. Moreover, this method does not require physical presence, therefore it is suitable for the teams, which are not located in the same geographical area.
Nominal Group technique, I believe, is the least effective method of collaborative decision-making. Although it allows combining individual work with the decision-making of the group, this merger may create a number of problems. Thus, once people have already prepared their own solutions to a problem, they find it hard to view the other ones with complete objectiveness. Furthermore, such approach minimizes the benefits of group decision making, since the solutions are generated individually, therefore their overall creativity is likely to be lower. Hence, this approach should not be applied when the objective of collaborative decision-making is to enhance the final solution.
Group decision-making is an effective technique to generate more creative ideas and to involve all team members. However, all of the collaborative decision-making methods have their own pitfalls, therefore the choice of the optimal technique depends on the organizational objectives.