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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: Structure Sets You Free

In principle, decision-making structure consists of things like rules, agendas, mandates, and plans; when these things frame our choices it frees us to focus on the substance of our work. A third-grade teacher once explained that when she decides where the kids are to sit in the classroom this does not take away their freedom, but actually frees them from the burden of having to decide this for themselves (a potentially large burden for a third grader). It frees them to focus on math, history, […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Freedom of Speech

In principle, to make good group decisions we need to hear all perspectives. We need be able to openly disagree with respect and civility. We need to have the courage to speak what’s on our minds and hearts even in the face of opposition. When a group’s culture makes it not okay to voice certain views or when participants feel intimidated about sharing, those suppressed viewpoints don’t go away; they just fester and turn into conflict later. Practical Tip: Help create a group culture that […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Us Over Me

In principle, the most likely path for a group to be highly productive, happy, and endure over generations is for individuals to put group needs over individual needs. In western culture we receive many messages that encourage us to put self first, the most likely path to short term gain. In a me-first culture individuals prevail but groups, communities, and species die. Good group decisions require an attitude of us over me. Practical Tip: In group decision making, be thoughtful about how a decision affects […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Carrots are Better than Sticks

In principle, you can get a donkey to move forward in two ways: entice her in front with a carrot or hit her from behind with a stick. Carrots are rewards, incentives, appreciation, and — the most compelling — visions of how things can be better. Sticks are punishments, criticisms, and — the most destructive — defeatism, pessimism, and a sense that things are hopelessly bad. When motivated by sticks we are generally resentful, in pain, and when the stick is gone our motivation disappears. […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Rules and Relationships

In principle, Where rules don’t work, relationships take over. Where relationships don’t work, rules take over. Without rules or relationships, there is no civil discourse, no way to make good group decisions. Some people put a lot of stock in relationships, trust that people will do the right thing. Two business partners take a risk together, perhaps even outside the rules or off the map, but they do it because of faith in their relationship. Some people put a lot of stock in rules (defined […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Difference Between Launch and Land

In principle, it helps to take ownership of what I hear, which may be different from what the speaker intended. Messages often get changed between how they are launched and how they land. The person talking often means one thing yet the person listening often hears it differently. This is due to differences in culture and context. It is nobody’s fault. When I begin a sentence with “I heard,” rather than “You said,” it acknowledges that I might not have heard it the way you […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Things Undone

In principle, things are always undone; housecleaning, unpaid bills, pending repairs and amends. Most of us are uncomfortable when things are left untied yet group decision making is always untidy. Meetings never end having achieved everything that every participant wanted to get done. In some cases, things undone can be so overwhelming, confusing and frustrating that it leads to destructive behavior or insanity. Practical Tip: Rather than breed insanity, change your expectations. Don’t expect everything to be all wrapped up by the end of the […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Heads Up

In principle, people appreciate a heads-up before having to decide something. It’s like making sure that the person to whom you are throwing a ball has his head up and sees you. With warning a there is a better chance that the ball will be caught and no one gets hurt. With a heads-up our decisions are more thoughtful, inclusive, and less reactionary. Practical Tip: Give your group advance notice of every decision that they will be asked to make. Sometimes a long advance is […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: On Behalf Cautions

In principle, speaking on behalf of others is fraught with potential conflict. It warrants caution. It encourages assumptions and blurs understanding. It slows and can even clog the decision-making process. To avoid misunderstanding, conflict, and inefficiency, it helps to ask questions of each other in real-time conversation. The most efficient and best decisions are usually made face-to-face among those most affected by the decision. Sometimes people speak on behalf of others to stir up trouble or for entertainment, and it often amounts to exactly that. […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Criticism Private

In principle, the cause of most criticism is the critic’s need to react to something painful, yet public reaction often causes more pain. When you think someone’s action or statement deserves criticism, first consider why. Will criticizing make you feel better? Teach them a lesson? You can probably accomplish these by criticizing privately. You might even achieve the first one by talking with a friend, or yelling or crying; get it off your chest. If you want to criticize in order to start a fight […] (continue)