ThinkLets: Achieving predictable, repeatable patterns of group interaction with Group Support Systems (GSS)

Robert O. Briggs, Gert Jan De Vreede, Jay F. Nunamaker, David Tobey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


Over the past decade, Group Support Systems (GSS) has shown that, under certain circumstances, teams using GSS can be far more productive than teams who do not use GSS. However, research results are not unequivocal; they have been ambiguous, and sometimes conflicting, which makes it difficult for GSS research to inform GSS practice. One cause of the conflict and ambiguity in GSS research results may be the result of focusing on a less-than-useful level of abstraction: GSS itself. This paper argues that in GSS research, the thinkLet may be a more useful unit of comparison than the GSS. A thinkLet encapsulates three components of a GSS stimulus: The tool, its configuration, and the script. Field experience shows that thinkLets may be used to create repeatable, predictable patterns of thinking among people making an effort toward a goal. To date we have documented about 60 thinkLets that map to seven basic patterns of thinking: Diverge, Converge, Organize, Elaborate, Abstract, Evaluate, and Build Consensus. Each thinkLet creates some unique variation on its basic pattern. By focusing research on thinkLets, rather than GSS, field and laboratory research may be more controllable, more replicable, and better able to inform GSS development and use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number59
Pages (from-to)32
Number of pages1
JournalProceedings of the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science


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