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Want better meeting outcomes? Try interrupting



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Want to improve the decision-making process during work meetings? Try interrupting. According to new research, teams make better decisions if they are interrupted with advice during their task, rather than advised before it.

The research was conducted by professor Colin Fisher at the UCL School of Management and recently published in the trade journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. During the study, Fisher conducted experiments with 124 three-person groups about the timing of formal interventions during decision-making.

Groups received advice either before their discussion, or at varying points during their discussions. Videos of discussions were used to measure the discussion length, level of advocacy, and amount of information shared, all of which predicted the likelihood of choosing the correct answer.

The experiments showed that groups who were interrupted with guidance or advice during their discussion identified more critical information and made better decisions than groups who received pre-task advice.

The groups who were interrupted during their meeting saw more value in the guidance, making them more likely to change their decision-making process and outcomes.

“These studies collectively suggest that decision-making groups respond more strongly to interventions designed to cure process problems, rather than prevent them,” the study states.

Commenting on his findings in a press release, Fisher added: “The findings go against the conventional wisdom that prevention is always better than cure.”

So next time you gather a team of colleagues for a brainstorming session, keep the introductory talk to a minimum and just dive straight in.

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