Tiny House
More About The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation • Join Now!
Community News

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: Multiple Truths

In principle, it is very rare for any two or more people to agree that a certain thing happened exactly the same way or for exactly the same reasons. How things look always depends on where one sits and no two people have the same perspective. Many times I have heard a single event described by multiple people in multiple ways. He says this happened and she says that happened. Does this mean that one is right and one is wrong, or that one is […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Brake in Advance

In principle, when you have to stop or change course by a certain time or place, it helps to prepare in advance. The more momentum something has, the longer the stopping distance; the more preparation required. In physics, momentum is mass times velocity. In groups, momentum is number of people times level of energy, such as enthusiasm or anger. A large group of fired-up people is simply unable to stop or change course quickly. And as any driver knows, if we try to stop or […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Agenda Setting Access

In principle, if we are a group of relative equals, deciding how we are going to spend our time together should be a group decision, or at least the group should decide the agenda-setting process. Further, every group member should understand the agenda-setting process and have access to it. In many groups, agenda setting is closely guarded by the majority or the chair and is often used to limit opposition. In most political systems, being able to control the agenda is a huge source of […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Define the Edges

In principle, the center of a circle is equidistant from all points on its perimeter. We need to know the edges to know the center. To know what’s centrally acceptable to a group of decision makers, it helps to know the outer limits of acceptability: what’s unacceptable. Practical Tip: Say wild ideas. Make bold proposals. Be provocative. Know that the group is actually well-served when someone responds, “Now that’s going too far,” or, “That’s stepping over the line.” Like a flashlight investigating a dark basketball […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Decide How to Decide

In principle, when parties cannot agree on an issue the next peaceful step is for them to decide how they are going to decide the issue. For instance, “We can’t agree on the floor plan for the new building, so we’re going to spend time on this at our next meeting, hear both sides, and vote. Is that okay with everyone?” If everyone can agree on how the thorny issue will be decided, that’s progress toward agreement. When we send something to a committee or […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: In-front-of Messaging

In principle, when I talk in front of a group, even if my words are directed to an individual, I am sending multiple messages. Leaders, politicians especially, are acutely aware of who they are speaking in front of and often deliver messages designed to impact multiple groups and influence multiple issues. When I look toward the back seat and ask my teenage daughter a question in front of her friends, I know that the answer she gives is mostly a message to her friends. When […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Coalition Membership

In principle, coalitions are held together by belief in a common cause. Membership is often flexible and responsive to coalition positions. The strongest coalitions are unanimous in every vote; each member fully supportive of every position. Sometimes a member may stand in the way of the coalition’s desires; called a veto, which is fine once in a great while. Even the strongest coalitions compromise occasionally to hold the group together. Yet when a member repeatedly blocks or disagrees with others, it’s probably time to adjust […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Naming

In principle, to name is to understand. It’s huge. It is key to solving problems and resolving conflicts. When just the right words are used to name a situation, a perspective, a feeling, it can bring instant relief and instant forward progress. By leaps and bounds. Naming the problem is over half way to solving it. Practical Tip: Name situations, perspectives, feelings; that is, describe them in ways that ring true. Do not avoid thinking about a hard problem or conflict; rather, think about how […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Reinterpretation

In principle, every story is an interpretation. The storyteller always gets to decide how the story gets told. You might call it “spin” or “take on it.” And every story can be reinterpreted by the players who are in it and by those who hear or learn about it. Reinterpreting our stories allows us to rewrite history and that can be a good thing. Changing or ignoring the facts is never wise but looking at the facts in new ways, from new points of view, […] (continue)

Group Decision Tip: Our Interests

In principle, good group decisions result when we consider our interests rather than just my interests. My instinct is often to go into a conversation, negotiation, or group decision with the goal of satisfying my own interests, of getting what I want. The challenge is to go into a conversation not just looking out for my interests, but looking out for yours too. It’s hard to consider what is in the best interest of two or more people, but the result might be a win […] (continue)