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The Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0011 | July 24, 2001
4,100 subscribers



Intervention Skill

Facilitate Effective Decision-Making

Use the decision-making model that fits the need.



The Point?

For whatever reason you've been asked to facilitate, you'll almost always be required to facilitate agreement between group members on some issue, decision, or action. There are many decision-making approaches that span a continuum. If we place the process of absolute consensus on one end of the spectrum, then at the other end would be voting. It's interesting to note that voting is the acceptable standard of decision-making used to select the leaders in our society. This is probably because this method typically takes the least amount of time and effort. At the other end of the spectrum is absolute consensus. Though this approach can be very time consuming and difficult, the decisions made using this method are often the most effective and long lasting. But because of the difficulty a group encounters on the path to consensus, this approach almost always requires the help of an objective facilitator.




Have your group consider these important questions when facilitating decision-making.

- What are the time constraints for making the decision? In other words, when do you need a decision?

- Have you clearly defined the problem or decision to be made so that a 6-year old can understand it?

- What will a decision "look like" for your group? i.e., must everyone agree to the decision? Must everyone be committed to it? Will it be a majority decision? Must the decision meet some minimum criteria?

- Do you have all the information you need to make a good decision?

- Have you brainstormed all the possible solutions prior to critiquing them?

- Have the merits of each perspective been heard, discussed, and documented for the group to see?

- Have both the emotional and logical aspects been addressed and respected? (Be aware that some people tend to make decisions based on emotion and others on logic so it's important that each perspective be heard).

- Do you know how many participants support each approach?

- Have you attempted to combine or integrate various aspects of each approach into a better decision?

- Has a decision been reached? If not, can you reconvene at a later time to complete, modify, or refine the decision?

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Do you have a decision you've been hesitating to make? If so, apply the steps above to it and see if this helps you come to a decision. I'm interested in hearing what happened. Please email me your thoughts, stories, and experiences.



Skill Related Resource
Smart Choices : A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions
, by John S. Hammond, Ralph L. Keeney, Howard Raiffa

Have you ever hired someone only to regret your decision two months later? Or looked at your financial portfolio and wondered why you bought the stocks you did? In Smart Choices, authors John S. Hammond, Ralph L. Keeney, and Howard Raiffa take the guesswork out of the decision-making process and offer a systematic approach to making the right choice. Most of us have problems making decisions, because we've never learned how. The authors write: 

Despite the importance of decision making to our lives, few of us ever receive any training in it. So we are left to learn from experience. But experience is a costly, inefficient teacher that teaches us bad habits along with good ones. Because decision situations vary so markedly, the experience of making one important decision often seems of little use when facing the next. Smart Choices outlines eight elements involved in making the right decision, from identifying exactly what the decision is and specifying your objectives to considering risk tolerance and looking at how what you decide on today influences what you may decide in the future. The book is full of real-life situations and scenarios that effectively illustrate each element of a good decision. If you think the topic of making the right choice is mundane or a simple matter of common sense, then think again. Smart Choices will relieve you of the regret that so many of us carry because we didn't know how to "think it through."



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About the Author: 
Steve Davis is a Business and Life Coach facilitating others to stretch beyond their full potential in their business and personal lives. Please email your stories, comments, suggestions, and ideas. I'd love to hear from you. If you find this newsletter helpful, please forward it to your friends. Thanks for reading! 



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Thank you for reading this issue of the Master Facilitator Journal.  Look for your next issue on July 31, 2001. 

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