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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: Incrementally

In principle, the best things are always built in tiny stages. Often there is the illusion of dramatic change, but even seemingly miraculous changes result from thousands of small steps. Taking small steps forward on a project lets us learn as we go and adjust. Big steps are risky. Small steps are sure-footed. Nature builds in very small increments and achieves very great things. Practical Tip: Do things small before you do them big, on small stages before big stages. Make use of pilot projects, […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Consensus Doesn’t Mean Casual

In principle, consensus generally means that all perspectives are heard and all concerns are addressed, resulting in decisions that all participants can willingly consent to. Many groups aspire to make decisions by consensus but very few have specific protocols in place to guide its implementation. There is no Robert’s Rules of Order for consensus. Groups often plunge ahead resolved to “use consensus” but with few or no structural underpinnings. Practical Tip: If you are going to use consensus as your official decision-making method, be specific […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Committees

In principle, not every task is best suited to the full group and not every topic is interesting to every group member. When groups establish committees — sub-groups of people focused on specific activities — it brings focused attention to issues, draws on the enthusiasm of those most interested, and frees the full group for higher level business. Committee members often volunteer for service although they may be formally appointed by the full group, chair, or boss. Standing committees have ongoing, often annual, responsibilities such […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: No One Dominates

In principle, the next great idea might come from anywhere, not just from the person with the most power or who talks the most. Groups seeking truly creative decisions invite and make room for creative suggestions from all participants. When naturally dominant people are humble and when naturally shy people are courageous, prospects for good group decisions are dramatically increased. Practical Tip: If you have a strong opinion about something or recognize that you are dominating, consider even for a second that there might be […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Closing comments

In principle, every chance we have to hear each other’s perspectives is a chance to improve understanding and build the foundation for better decisions. Often, the most valuable comments come right at the end of a meeting or discussion. At ease with each other after conversing awhile, people are more apt to speak their hearts. The group as a whole gets to see the unity of perspectives so often present at the end of a good meeting. This is also a last chance for someone […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: My first thought is probably not my best

In principle, my initial reaction — my first thought — is very rarely my best thought. Often my first thought is absurd and shows me how not to react. Like first brush strokes on a canvas, first thoughts provide a starting place for more refined thoughts, for subsequent brush strokes. First thoughts, like initial brush strokes, are rarely worth sharing. In fact, sharing first thoughts can be deeply counter-productive to good group decisions. Practical Tip: Just because I think something, doesn’t mean I have to […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Outside issues

In principle, if a disagreement is caused by an outside issue that has nothing to do with the group issue at hand, then it must be dealt with outside the group. An outside issue is a disagreement because of, for example, some incident between the parties that happened years ago and was never dealt with, or because of a mental disorder or perhaps an addiction. Or perhaps the conflict is related to a misconception closely held since childhood or an illogical fear. Outside issues are usually […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Resentments have roots in expectations

In principle, when we have expectations of others that don’t pan out it often leads to resentment which often brews discontent which often causes conflict. I have heard someone say that expectations are planned resentments. The surest way to avoid resentment is to not have expectations. When I fall into a victim role it’s helpful to remember that I am rarely a victim of others and often I am a victim of my own expectations. Practical Tip: As a participant in group decisions, I try […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Agreements stand until changed

In principle, the same formality is required to change an agreement as to make an agreement. For instance, if an agreement is made in a group meeting and properly documented, no member of the group should assume that the agreement has changed or act in ways contrary to the agreement until the agreement is changed in a group meeting and properly documented. Group agreements often get ignored over time and people come to think it is okay to behave contrary to what was agreed to. The […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: At least two ways

In principle, there are at least two ways to solve every problem. When we are able to be nonjudgmental, we are able to see problems not as problems at all but as misalignments. For example, the problem is not that I am right and you are wrong, it is simply that we see things differently. The problem is not that we are spending too much it is simply that we are spending more than we are earning. When we see difficulties as misalignments rather than problems, […] (continue)