Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0173 October 5, 2004 | 7,000 Subscribers...

Dear friends,

Why do groups often have such a hard time making good decisions that stick? I believe it has something to do with their lack of awareness about the process or the "decision rules" they use to arrive at them. This week's article, "Making Decisions That Stick," explores John Tropman's five Decision Rules and how applying any three or more of them to your decision-making process will vastly improve your chances of arriving at a good decision that has longevity.

Our next live version of the Random Acts of Facilitation Teleclass starts next monday. Please see details at the bottom of this issue and pass it on to any friends or associates whom you think may be interested. This teleclass can also be tailored for your company staff providing them good basic group process skills useful to any leader, program manager, and even team members. Please contact us to explore options.

We've also set up a Facilitator's Forum on various arenas of interest to facilitators. Please see details below. We hope you'll use this forum to you advantage and please let us know what you think of it.

In this Issue:

Feature Article: Making Decisions That Stick

New Forum

Resource: Making Meetings Work: Achieving High Quality Group Decisions

Teleclass: Random Acts of Facilitation Teleclass, October 11-15th

If any of you have any interesting stories or experiences about facilitation, group process, work groups, team building, training, etc. that might interest our readers, please send them to us.

Have a great week!

Steve Davis


Teleclass Oct 11-15th

170 articles and growing
Group Management Skill

Making Decisions That Stick
Consciously applying the five Decision Rules yields better decisions that stick.

The Point

During my recent reading of John Tropman's book, "Making Meetings Work: Achieving High Quality Group Decisions," I was impressed by his identification and discussion of five "Decision Rules." These are rules groups use to guide their decision-making process. It turns out that these rules taken together are pretty effective at reaching decisions that stick. So why then do groups so often have a hard time making good decisions that get implemented?

Problems occur for a couple of reasons. First off, Tropman says that these rules are part of our culture and often operate unconsciously in the “deep structure” of our groups. In many cases, as group members are articulating different rules, the group, in effect, stalls. Rule conflicts show up in the ways people propose making decisions. Somebody says, “Vote,” and then somebody else says, “voting wouldn’t be fair.” Then someone else says, “How many votes does the boss get?” and so forth. One of the big reasons for nondecisions in groups is gridlock, or better yet, rulelock.

Secondly, we often use too few of the five rules in our decision-making process. It's not unusual for groups to pick one rule and use it as their sole guide in making a decision. Making these rules conscious helps us make better decisions with less confusion. And in general, when ecisions meets three or more rules, they tend to be good ones.

Let's briefly review these Tropman's five Decision Rules below.


The Five Decision Rules

1. The extensive decision rule. This is the rule of the "one-person vote" that seems to be the most common default rule used in our culture. It seeks to measure the breadth of preference. For example, if the decision was to select a place to go to lunch and someone posed the question, "How many want to go to “Burger Kind” for lunch?" the results of your vote would tell you the breadth of preference, in other words, how many people were in favor of this decision, and nothing more. This is an important piece of information to be sure, but used exclusively in your decision-making process it will not likely yield a high level of commitment.

Think about the presidential elections that exclusively use the extensive decision rule. Roughly half the people enjoy the results of the decision and half don't. How passionately do those who don't like the results back the administration and it's future decisions? We see the answer to that question everyday, as it accounts for much of our news.

2. The intensive decision rule. This rule accounts for who feels most strongly about a preference. For instance, what if you’re a vegetarian in the vote above? Your interests are simply not served at all by the choice presented, and being in the minority, your voice will be unheard and discounted in a group of meat eaters employing only the above rule. Strength of preference information is sometimes harder to tease out but if it is not addressed, its unlikely that decisive action and full support will occur.

The Abilene paradox
is another classic example of a decision made with no inquiry into the participants' preferences. In fact, no one really wanted to take the action resulting from the decision, but all parties, refraining from checking strength of preference, interpreted mild agreement (or lack of disagreement) as a consensus decision.

3. The involvement decision rule. This rule offers more weight to the preference of the person who has responsibility for implementing the decision. For example, the one who prepares dinner gets to pick what’s served. The person charged with, or who's volunteered to carry out the decision should often has more say than others.

4. The expert decision rule. Some people know more than others. If enough information doesn't already exist to effectively make a decision, employing this rule assures that groups seek out expert opinion on appropriate decision elements.

5. The power decision rule. What does the boss want? Desires of influential people carry weight in the decision. This rule assures that the influence factor is voiced and considered during the decision-making process.

Example. Here's a proposal offered by a group member that articulates four of the five rules above. Can you identify them in his statement?

It seems like Bill’s proposal looks good.
Most of us
seem to be in favor of it, the boss doesn’t care,
the Office of General Counsel has given it the okay if that’s what we want to do,
and although there are different points of view,
none of them seems tremendously strong in opposition.

Observe these rules in operation in your groups before going out and trying to apply them. After you have seen several rules cancel each other out or form a confluence that leads to a decision, you will be better prepared to manage or orchestrate the processes that are helpful to your groups.


See if you can identify these rules in operation in the groups you lead or in those in which you participate. How does being aware of these rules affect your decision-making ability or your ability to help groups make decisions? Please send us your questions and comments.

Interactive Forum Forum

In an effort to connect with your peers to get answers to your questions, increase your knowledge base, and to collaborate on joint projects, we've put up a new Interactive Forum for you at FacilitatorU! We've divided it into several separate discussion areas initially covering the following aspects of facilitation: General Topics, Intervention, Group Dynamics, Exercises and Activities, Presentation, Logistics, Professional Development, and Self Facilitation. More areas will be added as you suggest them to us.

So please feel free to post your questions and responses there. Be sure to first register so that you can make postings and set various options for your account. Click here to register and begin posting.


Making Meetings Work: Achieving High Quality Group Decisions, by John E. Tropman

A best-seller in its first edition, Making Meetings Work: Achieving High Quality Group Decisions, Second Edition covers everything you need to know about organizing engaging meetings, including preparing agendas, controlling what happens behind the scenes prior to and after meetings, and managing conflicting values and personalities. Through the Meeting Masters Research Project at the University of Michigan, author John E. Tropman observed and interviewed the nation's most successful meeting experts to find out how to make meetings both stimulating and productive. Based on his findings, Tropman formulated seven principles and fourteen commandments for implementing dynamic meetings.

In the Spotlight

Teleclass for facilitators and group members.

Discrete skills and attitudes for the new and experienced facilitator who wants to get their group into serious motion.

I want to thank you for designing a course that lived up to its advertisement. I found the daily curriculum practical and thought provoking. The ideas developed each day created foundations for the lessons to follow. Many "acts of facilitation" were immediately applicable to my facilitation practice. The tone of each class was a supportive learning environment. Each class ended on a note of high-energy with encouraging words and an opportunity for feedback. --Steven Pyser, J.D., Consultant--

Random Acts of Facilitation, 5-Day Teleclass

This class will meet over a telephone bridge line for five consecutive weekdays October 11-15, 2004 at 10:00 AM PDT, 1:00 PM EDT (NY Time) to cover 25+ facilitative actions you can take to empower and move groups forward. This course, that you can take from the comfort of your own home or office, is for beginning facilitators, group leaders, or group members who simply want to know more about facilitation so that they can make their groups more effective. These "discrete" acts of facilitation also lend themselves to being taught to your group members who desire to become more self-facilitative.

How the 5-Day Format/Training works...
1. You dial into your class every day for 5 days (Mon-Fri) for a 60-minute focused training segment using a conferencing bridge.
2. You work a 25-point checklist during the 5 days (about an hour a day of study and field work) which you complete by Friday afternoon, or sooner if you wish.
3. You will have the opportunity to discuss issues on the subject matter with the instructor and your classmates via an online discussion forum during the course.
4. During the week, you may access the instructor via email for help or situational questions.

5-Day Random Acts of Facilitation Training Agenda...
Here's what you'll be learning and doing during the 5-Day course...

Introduction to the Facilitation and Self Facilitation Skills.

1. Set the Stage.
2. Share the Dream.
3. Get Facilitation
4. Juggling.
5. Me First.

Relating with compassion and understanding.

6. Be Ignorant.
7. Make Smiles Happen.
8. Hold 'em High.
9. Acknowledge the Elephant.
10. Turn on Your Crap-Detector.

Group Dynamics and Facilitation

11. Build the Container.
12. Build trust.
13. Mine the Unexpected.
14. Evolve Your Team.
15. Honor the Process.
16. Facilitate Full Participation

Organizing and Presenting yourself confidently, professionally, and authentically. 

17. Prepare for Success.
18. Get Real.
19. Make Experiences, Not Speeches
20. Watch the Body Talk.
21. Be your message

Intervening to shift group energy

22. Tame the Tormentors.
23. CareFront.
24. Use the Struggle.
25. Break through barriers.
26. Facilitate from Within.
27. Embrace Facilitation as a Master's Path

Benefits to you of participating from the 5-Day Random Acts of Facilitation Training...
1. Get a great introduction to the concept and practice of facilitation skills if you are contemplating becoming a facilitator, team leader, board member, manager, mediator, etc.
2. Never waste another minute in an ineffective meeting again.
3. Learn how to challenge and empower every group you come in contact with.
4. Learn skills to help groups make quantum leaps in their effectiveness.
5. Be a catalyst for positive change in your community.

Also included with your training...
In addition to the 5-Day training described above, you also receive:
1. Comprehensive 15-page Student Learning Guide.
Free access to the participant-only website (lots of resources, forms, etc.).
3. Free access to the RealAudio version of the 5-Day training.
4. Free copy of the Portable Article Bank ($29 value).

The full cost of training/access is only $79 if you register by September 30th. ($89 for the general public) including a free copy of the Portable Article Bank ($29 value). Everything you read about above is included. And, we offer a 100%-satisfaction-guaranteed guarantee.

October 11-15, 2004, 10:00 AM PDT, 1:00 PM EDT (NY Time), 60 minutes each day.

I would recommend to anyone who wants to experience excellent modeling of what good facilitation is, to sign up for this teleclass. --Elain Wylie, Life Coach--


Immediately upon completion of your registration, you will receive an email with instructions to access the course and free article bank. This course is limited to 20 individuals, first come, first served.

Click here to register now

Self-Guided 5-Day Real Audio Version
You'll be provided with access to three separate recorded offerings of the five-hour teleclass (15 hours total) that you can listen to online and follow along in the learning guide is used in the live class. Click here to purchase for $69. We will also include a free copy of the Portable Article Bank ($29 value) with your purchase. We offer a 100%-satisfaction-guaranteed guarantee.


Please click here to purchase.

Self-Guided 5-Day CD Version
The Compact Disk (CD) version comes with all of the self-guided features listed above, together with 5 CD's you'll receive by mail that you can listen to anywhere you have access to a CD player.


Click here to purchase the CD Version for $79
plus $4 Shipping and Handling

About the satisfaction guarantee
If, for any reason, you are not satisfied with this training, simply email us with a request to refund/credit your credit card in the full amount and we will do so immediately. It's our policy to do this and we honor this in every single case.

Real Audio Testimonials
Click here for a one-minute audio testimonial from several participants on the final day of the teleclass.

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