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Good Group Tips

In principle, groups make their best decisions when no single person knows what’s best for the group. “No one in this room is smarter than all of us,” is a popular phrase among some groups.

When I go into a meeting already sure of what the outcome should be, I am apt to focus on getting my way rather than on what’s best for the group as a whole. Knowing in advance how things should be closes off the potential of things being better than I can imagine.

Practical Tip: At the start of every meeting, say to yourself: “I don’t know what’s best for the group.” Begin with an open mind and remain open-minded as long as possible. Maximize the value of your contributions by giving up ownership of them. Release the need to take credit and the need to be a victim. Simply play your right-sized part as best you can and watch the group’s best unfold.

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.

Straw vote

Good Group Tips

In principle, the best group decisions are based on shared understanding of everyone’s perspective, and a good way to get a quick read of where everyone stands is to take a straw vote. A straw vote is not a real vote; it doesn’t count over the long run, like straw. Someone might say, “Let’s just see how people feel about the latest idea. All those who tend to like it, show a thumb up. If you tend not to like it, show a thumb down. If you are neutral or undecided, show a horizontal thumb.” Count the thumbs in the three categories. That’s a straw vote.

It lets everyone in the group see, in a quick and general way, if the latest idea is worth more group time and energy. It also shows where the concerns are (the down thumbs) so we know who to call on to hear concerns.

Some groups use color cards for straw votes. Some use high-tech remote keypads and the results are graphed instantly on a screen in front of the room. The most efficient groups use straw votes often and with ease.

Practical Tip: Don’t hesitate to call for, or participate in, a straw vote. Before calling for a straw vote, make sure the question is clear and simple; you don’t want to waste group time haggling about: “What are we voting on?”

When calling for a straw vote, remind everyone that it does not count over the long run; that everyone has the right to change their mind later; that it is simply a quick and blurry snapshot of how we feel at this moment. Still, even a snapshot can be worth a thousand words.

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.

Come to the Meeting!

If we want real resolutions to hard problems, we need to hear all points of view. In this video on the way to a meeting — with signs along the road that say “Come to the meeting!” — Craig explains why being in the room is so important.

This video has captions. To see them, click CC on the video screen.

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi everybody! Hey it’s Craig Freshley here, on my way to a meeting, and as I’m driving to this meeting I noticed that there are some signs along the road. Let’s read them.

This one says: ‘SOS’, ‘Save our shoreline access’, ‘Come one come all’, ‘Come heed the call’, ‘Come speak your piece’,  ‘On paper streets’, ‘Attend the public forum’, ‘Today, Saturday’.

Look, when we have a public meeting on a controversial topic like the one I’m driving to, it helps if we have all kinds of points of view in the room. There are some people here in Cape Elizabeth, Maine who have taken the initiative to try and encourage people to come to this meeting.

If we want to arrive at a peaceful solution we have our best chance of doing that if we hear all the concerns of all the people in the same room at the same time, because that allows us to ask questions of each other and really understand where each other’s coming from.

So I’m off to facilitate a public meeting at which we hope to hear from each other, understand each other, and maybe come to some ideas about peaceful resolution.

I hope this helps you help your group make good decisions.

Thanks for listening everybody!

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.
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