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From the CommunityAuthor Archives: Craig Freshley

Blogger Bio:  Group Decision Tips are written by NCDD member Craig Freshley, a long-time meeting facilitator and group process author. Craig invites NCDDers to view all his Tips at www.groupdecisiontips.com, and to share them freely for non-commercial purposes with proper credit to Craig.

Group Decision Tip: What’s the problem?

In principle, more often than not, a group will develop a great solution to the wrong problem. Before proceeding with a solution we need to see that it is aimed at the problem, and to do that we need to bring the problem into focus. Taking time to define the problem may seem annoying and unnecessary in the short term, but can save huge amounts of time and energy over the long run. Defining the problem as a group also checks our shared expectations. It helps […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Direction more important than pace

In principle, moving quickly often seems like a good idea but moving quickly in the wrong direction simply gets you to the wrong place fast. Most groups have a high need for quick achievement. We have all heard someone say, “Enough talk, let’s just do something!” And we have all seen groups charge off quickly and with much enthusiasm…in the wrong direction. Practical Tip: Even when under pressure to accomplish something in a hurry, resist the temptation to achieve a quick, although shabby, result. Quality group decisions, […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Feedback please

In principle, when we ask for feedback we increase our chances of making good group decisions. If we don’t ask we can’t expect people to tell us what’s going well and not so well. When we do ask we should be open to all answers. Asking for feedback takes courage but gives enlightenment. It helps us see things in new light, reflected off others. Practical Tip: Ask how you are doing among those who care about what you do. What’s working well? What could be better? What […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: More wagging, less barking

In principle, you know when a dog is happy to see you, and when not. People wag and bark too, in different ways. When two dogs approach each other wagging, expecting friendship, the outcome is almost always good. When one or more dogs are barking, it is hard to make good group decisions. Practical Tip: Approach people wagging, expecting good things. Carry a sunny disposition. Look for the good in every person and in every situation…and let your optimism show. Wag more. Bark less. (continue)

Group Decision Tip: High ground

In principle, groups often get bogged down in details (who should do what by when and how) and fail to stay on the high ground (strategic direction and guiding policies). The group as a whole has the unique perspective of seeing all that the group is doing, all the opportunities, all the threats. It is a view from the hill top. An individual group member has the unique perspective of seeing the details on the ground and has the best sense of how to actually implement […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Detachment

In principle, detachment is the key to peace. Sometimes we are so attached to things that we are apt to fight for them, so attached that when they disappear it brings great pain, so attached that our judgment is clouded to the point where we see and feel only conflict. While right-sized compassion brings comfort, oversized attachment to people, ideas, or feelings brings turmoil and tension. While right-sized determination brings achievement, unwavering attachment to goals or ideals brings conflict. Practical Tip: Do not be too attached […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Accountability

In principle, accountability is comparing expectations with actions, what we hoped would happen against what actually happened. It requires that expectations are written. It requires that actions are evaluated in light of the expectations. And there’s another requirement. When we are accountable we say out loud that things were achieved as expected or that things were not achieved as expected. We don’t ignore successes or transgressions, we account for them. Accountability done right is very helpful for personal and group development. It pushes us to […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Flat for planning, stacked for doing

In principle, different ways of deciding should be applied to different types of decisions. Deciding how things should be — planning — is well-suited to a flat decision-making structure; that is, where several decision makers are equal and all fully participate. Some call this consensus decision making. As a rule, the longer and wider the reach of the plan, the broader and flatter the planning structure should be. Deciding how to implement plans — doing — is better suited to hierarchical decision-making structure; that is, […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: My part

In principle, there are at least two pieces to every puzzle, at least two parts to every solution. No solution to a problem is entirely in the hands of just one person. For example, people at the back of a room might have a hard time hearing the speaker at the front. When this happens someone is apt to suggest to the speaker: “Speak up.” But another solution is in the hands of the listeners: “Move closer.” If I have a problem with someone’s behavior, […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: E-mail

In principle, e-mail is an efficient way to communicate in groups, but it is a relatively new way of communicating that we are still getting used to. E-mail is instant, like conversation; enduring, like a written document; and able to be copied and distributed like nothing we have ever known. The combination of these three attributes makes it rather like a chainsaw: very effective when used properly, very dangerous when used on impulse or in anger. E-mail is most effective when used to convey facts […] (continue)

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