Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0210, June 28, 2005 | 7,000 Subscribers..

Dear friends,

Decision-making is a key role groups often find themselves in. As group facilitators, it behooves us to have a collection of decision-making models up our sleeves. In fact, many groups get stuck using
the decision-making approach they've always used or the only approach they know. It's important to remember that there are lots of different decision-making models and though there's isn't a single perfect model, there usually is a time when each of them may be called for. It's knowing when to employ which model that's the key to good facilitation. So have a look at this week's article, "Use the Right Model at the Right Time," to review five different decision-making models and the contexts and pitfalls of each. I'd like to thank my friend and colleague, Jessica Hartung of Integrated Work Strategies, LLC for her contribution to this article.

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Have a great week!

Steve Davis


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The Point

Use the right model at the right time
Models for group decision-making

Group Process Skill

There are lots of ways to make decisions. But sometimes we get stuck using the approach we've always used or the only approach we know. The thing is, there are lots of different decision-making models. None of them is the best, but each of them, at one time or another, is the best one to employ given the situation.

Five different decision-making models are summarized below. Each one includes the related context and concerns around its application with groups. Get to know these models and when to best employ each one.



Contributive Model: Information and authority reside with the leader and those who will implement the decision. Appropriate when a small number of individuals will carry out the work for the whole.
Method: In contributive decision-making, a leader and key implementers receive input and suggestions from all members of the group, but ultimately, the small group decides the direction to take. Contributive decision-making is similar to the Consensus model but narrows the actually decision-making body to those who will the complete work associated with the decision.
Concerns: The contributive decision-making method requires explanation and practice before most groups become comfortable with it.
Participative Model: Team members have information related to the decision. Authority resides with the leader. Appropriate when the leader must make a decision but needs input or information from others.
Method: In the participative model, the leader makes a decision after receiving information and suggestions from other group members.
Concerns: While the leader receives input from others, implementers may disagree with the decision. There is also a lack of group responsibility.
Authoritative Model: Information and authority reside with the leader. Appropriate when the leader alone has knowledge related to the decision or when time is critical.
Method: The leader controls the decision without input or suggestions from others and holds personal responsibility for the outcome.
Concerns: This model is non-participative. Others in the organization may not support the decision and there is a lack of group responsibility for outcomes.
Majority Decides-Voting Model: Information and authority reside with the leaders and all group members. Appropriate when all group members have knowledge about the decision and formality required.
Method: The leader shares control of the decision by allowing the group to vote. The outcome is decided by majority wins.
Concerns: Those who disagree with the decision may undermine efforts to implement it.
Consensus Model: Information and authority resides with the leader and all group members. Appropriate when participation from all group members is important and the decision will impact the group as a whole.
Method: Everyone in the group needs to agree and make a decision together.
Concerns: Has the potential to be very slow or to hold a group hostage if group members fail to agree.

About the Author: Developed by Integrated Work Strategies, LLC, in conjunction with Conversant, LLC Boulder, Colorado.

Get familiar with each of these models and their pro's and con's. Then practice employing the most appropriate approach the next time your group needs to make a decision. We'd love to hear what happens!
Please send us your comments.

In the Spotlight

Facilitator Models Collection

This 30-page collection contains 20 models on practically every aspect of group facilitation including decision-making, communication, intervention, teamwork, training, and more...

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Table of Contents

1. Basic vs. Developmental Facilitation
2. Conversational Architecture
3. Core Values of Intervention
4. Decision-Making Models
5. Diagnosis And Intervention Model
6. Evolution of Dialogue
7. Five Decision Rules
8. Full Participation Model
9. Three “I’s”: Invite, Inspire, And Incite
10. "Functional" Group Model
11. Integral Learning Model
12. Integral Meeting Model
13. Intervention Depth Model
14. Kolb Learning Cycle
15. Ladder of Inference
16. Learning Model
17. Levels of Personal Development
18. ORID Model
19. Remote Working Relationships Model
20. The Shadow Work Model

Cost of this Guide: $29.95

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