Which is a more productive method of performing a group task: allowing ail group members to share in the decision making, duties and responsibilities, or appointing one member to make decisions, delegate duties and take responsibility? The speakers opinion is that the first method is always the best one. In my view, however, each of these alternatives is viable in certain circumstances, as illustrated by two very different examples.
A jury in a criminal trial is good example of a group in which shared decision-making, duties, and responsibility is the most appropriate and effective way to get the job done. Each member of the jury is on equal footing with the others. While one person is appointed to head the jury, his or her function is to act as facilitator, not as leader. To place ultimate authority and responsibility on the facilitator would essentially be to appoint a judge, and to thereby defeat the very purpose of the jury system.
By way of contrast, a trauma unit in a hospital is a case in which one individual should assume responsibility, delegate duties and make decisions. In trauma units, split-second decisions are inherently part of the daily routine, and it is generally easier for one person to make a quick decision than for a team to agree on how to proceed. One ould argue that since decisions in trauma units are typically life-and-death ones, leaving these decisions to one person is too risky. However, this argument ignores the crucial point that only the most experienced individuals should be trusted with such a burden and with such power; leaving decisions to inexperienced group members can jeopardize a patients very life.