Welcome back. Time for module two, where we turn our attention to group development and decision making. Now previously in module 1, we looked at some of the underlying theoretical and conceptual issues that should inform our understanding of group communication, specifically, different theories of communication and the hidden forces of group interaction. Now we're gonna focus on some of the more practical things that groups actually do in their interactions with each other and figure out how we can improve these practices to have more successful group experiences. And most of these practices fall into two main categories: development and decision making. Group development involves everything groups do to form and operate: how they come together, how they evolve and dissolve, the different phases groups can go through, how groups can attain a certain character or way of being, and how their members take on various identities. All this stuff affects our ability to function successfully and generally get stuff done in our groups. Think of any group you're a part of right now or have been a part of in the past. Do you consider that group successful or unsuccessful? Functional or dysfunctional? How exactly did it get that way? And how did you and others become part of the group in the first place? Chances are, the way in which your group formed, and continues to form, has a big impact on how well it functions. That's what group development is all about: recognizing that your group is a living system in a continual state of evolution based on how you interact with each other. You probably know the feeling of being new to the group and the difficulties of learning how this group operates, struggling to be accepted as a true member of the group, regardless of what your formal membership might technically be. Or perhaps you've felt the frustration of trying to change a group and its way of doing things because the group has a history that is so entrenched, making it very difficult to do things differently than they have been done in the past. Or maybe you are trying to recreate the magic of a group that was particularly successful and effective, wondering what those special ingredients were. All of these things relate to the notion of group development. It's not just that the component parts of a group are important, but also how those parts come together in the first place and how they continue to interact with each other. That's what makes all the difference. Understanding development is so important for successful group work because groups never just exist; they come together in very particular ways that have a direct impact on how we communicate. And since every group we're in or will be in is different, we have to pay attention to the unique developmental aspects of each group. But this means we have to know what to pay attention to in the first place. So we'll focus on key aspects of group development that can enhance our understanding of group communication, things like socialization, norms, and roles. And we'll look at different models that explain how these aspects of group development happen, like phase models and multiple sequence models of group development. Yes, every group is different, but research shows that almost all groups display common patterns and behaviors of development that we can recognize, analyze, and improve. Next, in the second half of this module, we'll focus on decision-making – arguably the most important function of groups and group communication. After all, most groups form in order to make decisions either out of necessity or opportunity, even if they don't spend most of their time on decision-making per se. There's some important problem that needs to be solved, some issue that needs to be addressed, and your group needs to make a decision about what to do. Or maybe there's some new prospect we can take advantage of, but we need to make a good decision, as a group, regarding how to proceed. Whatever the case, the success of your group almost always relates to the quality of the decisions that you make. However, making decisions as a group is very difficult and certainly many groups have made plenty of bad decisions – sometimes with very far-reaching and detrimental consequences. It's so difficult to anticipate all the unintended consequences of our decision. What seemed like a good decision in the short term could actually turn out to be a very bad decision in the long run or vice versa. And many group decisions are not between an obvious good idea and a clear bad idea, but rather involve deciding among a number of good alternatives that will please some people and inevitably upset other people. Plus, we always have time constraints and incomplete information and hidden motivations that affect our group decision-making. So we'll look at some of the common decision-making traps that, well, are all too common for groups to fall into: tendencies we have, distortions in our collective thinking, and biases that creep into our decision-making processes if we're not careful. We'll also cover several decision-making best practices that can help us avoid these traps and make better group decisions more often. And we'll discuss how we can foster more creativity and innovation in our decision-making because, sometimes, our groups need to come up with a new plan or a strategy or a solution that is different than the status quo, so we need to interact with each other in ways that increase the likelihood for developing novel ideas. So that's what we'll be doing here in module two. We'll get started by covering socialization, norms, and roles – key aspects of group development that shape, and are shaped by, our group communication. I'll see you next time.