better team decision makingMedical device design is a collaborative process. That necessitates meetings with development team members to report on progress, discuss alternatives and solve problems. Group interactions can often spark great ideas via the interplay of the different perspectives and thinking that individual members bring to the group.

Meetings can also be highly dysfunctional and a gigantic waste of time. The World Economic Forum has a good article on methods to make collaborative sessions more effective. Medical device designers could use the WEF recommendations to improve their product development process. Here are the highlights:

  1. Squash interruptions. Set an amount of time for one person to speak. Stop anyone who interrupts immediately and let the person continue.
  2. Provide a means for members to share their thoughts privately. Not everyone will be comfortable voicing their opinion (especially a dissenting one) with the group.
  3. The pressure to conform to the opinions of the majority is enormous. Breaking the group into smaller segments for each to consider the issues, then reconvening and having each small group report is a method to defend against conformity.
  4. The first piece of information you receive serves as an anchor against which you compare subsequent information. Those anchors can bias decision-making. Vary how you present the information (“we have achieved 70% of our objective”, vs “we still have 30% to go”) and what information you present first.
  5. Leaders and experts should be the last to speak. Group members are swayed by position power and perceived status.
  6. Encourage the voicing of opposing views by emphasizing that conflict is sometimes needed to get to the best solution. What you are considering is important and requires “positive debate” or “constructive discussion”.