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Decision method right-sized

Good Group Tips

In principle, the amount of energy (time, money, etc.) invested in a group decision should be in proportion to the amount of impact it’s likely to have. The magnitude of the impact is a combination of how many people are affected, how deeply, and for how long into the future.

Consensus decisions are best suited to those that we expect to affect many people and last a long time — decisions that are expected to live longer than the current generation of decision makers. Consensus decisions are characterized by inclusive participation, shared understanding, and acceptance among all key stakeholders. This is when everybody decides for everybody.

Majority rule works well for medium-size decisions: decisions that are expected to last for awhile but are open to challenge and easily changed as majorities change (as generations of decision makers turn over). This is when most of the people decide for everybody.

One person in charge works well for decisions expected to last a short time with limited impact. Here, one person makes decisions on behalf of everybody.

Practical Tip: Don’t use the same decision method for all decisions. Up front, consider the likely magnitude of impact for each decision and choose consensus, majority rule, one decider, or some other method. You might use consensus for things like mission statements and strategic plans, majority rule for things like annual budgets, and leave day-to-day operations to individual deciders.

It’s not right-sized for just one person to decide the group’s 10-year plan, or for tomorrow’s schedule to be decided by consensus.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

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

Advice

Good Group Tips

In principle, advice works best when it is solicited and unconditional.

Practical Tip: Generally, don’t give advice unless asked. Who are you to say that you know best, especially when you have not walked in the other’s shoes? If you give advice only when asked you are on solid ground and minimize reasons for regrets. Unsolicited advice is called for only when an intervention is truly warranted.

Give advice without expectations about what will result. Giving advice with strings — conditions or expectations — is a set up for disappointment. Besides, unconditional advice is much more useful to the receiver. Better decisions are made when the decider is free to act on all, part of, or none of the advice given.

Receive solicited advice with appreciation, whether you like it or not.

Ask for advice with specifics and parameters. You might ask for comments on a written proposal or answers to a specific question. Or you might describe a specific situation and ask, “What would you do?”

I hope you asked for this Tip. Use it however you like.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

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

Single-tasking

Good Group Tips

In principle, even though multi-tasking seems ever more popular, the fact remains that focusing on one goal at a time is the surest way to achieve them. Juggling many balls may appear impressive, but the more balls in the air the greater the chance of dropping one, or several. Groups are especially prone to failure when trying to do too many things at once, and especially prone to success when everyone is focused on a single task.

Of course, to focus on a single task the single task must be well defined. Many groups flounder because the participants are not clear on what they are supposed to be doing. Absent a well-defined problem to be solved or objective to be achieved, group members can’t be blamed for coloring outside the lines or getting off track. What lines? What track?

Practical tip: When you meet with others to make a decision, define the task at hand and then focus on achieving it. Resist the temptation to simultaneously check e-mail or have side conversations or view other screens or work on other projects. Even when bored or when you think you have nothing to contribute, meditate and search within for creative solutions. Listen to others for deep understanding. Quietly jot notes on how things could be better. Even though silent, there are many ways to contribute to the group task.

Discourage other group members from weaving in and out of participation, distracted by other things.

The magic of groups happens when several brains and hearts are focused on a single task. The frustration of groups happens when undefined or multiple tasks suck energy from singleness of purpose.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

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