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Monday, May 20, 2013

Deciding on decisions

Decision making in groups

Following on from the last Socialsense posting, the next task is to decide how to make decisions. How do you make decisions when you have decided how to make decisions is always an interesting question.

Task 3: Deciding on a decision making method.

* A group process to get thinking underway: Brainstorming
An initial decision-making task is brainstorming. When brainstorming, group members are encouraged to generate as many ideas about a particular topic as they can.

The brainstorming process may include the group:
1. Define and agree the objective.
2. Brainstorm ideas and suggestions having agreed a time limit.
3. Categorise/condense/combine/refine.
4. Assess/analyse effects or results.
5. Prioritise options/rank list as appropriate.
6. Agree action and timescale.
7. Control and monitor follow-up.
Group members should be encouraged to say anything that comes to mind when brainstorming. Every idea is written down and judgments about ideas are saved until later, when the group returns to all of the ideas and selects those that are most useful.

Some ideas to aid brainstorming
There are many ways to construct your brainstorming when looking at an issue or just trying to get a list of “things”. Here are just two of them, feel free to make up your own processes to get eth job done!

* P/M/I (Plus/Minuses/Interesting)
Draw up three columns on a piece of paper. Head them 'Plus', 'Minus', and 'Interesting'.
In the column underneath 'Plus', write down all the positive results of taking the action. Underneath 'Minus' write down all the negative effects. In the 'Interesting' column write down the implications and possible outcomes of taking the action, whether positive, negative, or uncertain.
By this stage it may already be obvious whether or not you should implement the decision. If it is not, consider each of the points you have written down and assign a positive or negative score to it appropriately. The scores you assign may be quite subjective.
Once you have done this, add up the score. A strongly positive score shows that an action should be taken, a strongly negative score that it should be avoided.

· Blue: Processes, how can we do this, objective, logical,
· Red: Emotion
· Yellow: Positive
· Green: Creative thinking - possibilities
· White: Information
· Black: Negatives
The meeting may start with everyone assuming the Blue hat to discuss how the meeting will be conducted and to develop the goals and objectives. The discussion may then move to Red hat thinking in order to collect opinions and reactions to the problem. This phase may also be used to develop constraints for the actual solution such as who will be affected by the problem and/or solutions. Next the discussion may move to the (Yellow then) Green hat in order to generate ideas and possible solutions. Next the discussion may move between White hat thinking as part of developing information and Black hat thinking to develop criticisms of the solution set. Because everyone is focused on a particular approach at any one time, the group tends to be more collaborative than if one person is reacting emotionally (Red hat) while another person is trying to be objective (White hat) and still another person is being critical of the points which emerge from the discussion (Black hat).

* Sticky note grouping

Everyone writes their response (to a question, issue, problem requiring a decision) on separate sticky notes and then the group arranges the notes on the wall or table into "like" categories. The group reviews the categories of responses and decides which one/s are the most popular response/s.

* The final decision

There are many ways that a group can make a final decision, decide on a solution, or come to agreement. Some of the most popular ways of making the decision include:
Consensus: The group members all agree on the final decision through discussion and debate.

Decision by negative minority: The group holds a vote for the most unpopular idea and eliminates it. The group repeats the process until only one idea is left.

Majority Vote: The decision is based on the opinion of the majority of its members (50/50, 40/60 etc).

Decision by sub-committee: members of the group form a sub-committee to work through a decision and bring it back to the group.

Decision by Leader: The group gives the final decision to its leader.

Ranking: the group facilitator asks each group member to individually rank all of the options from lowest to highest priority. Finally, the facilitator computes an average score for each idea. The lowest score is the highest priority for the group.

Arbitration: An external body or person makes a decision for the group.

* Decision review: An initial decision can always be changed before social action is taken.

The inquiry of the decided topic/issue may come to a dead end or a new idea may be considered a better way to go. As long as there is still time to finish the task, be prepared to reconsider a decision and change if the group agrees. This is referred to as the process of decision review which should be in place early in the group’s life.
It is good practice in fact for the group to build in this review process into their time together by asking on a regular basis the question; "How is the inquiry going and are we still happy with our decision?"

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