When making decisions, consider testing for decision quality (DQ)[1] so that you can avoid having another meeting.  Therefore, a quick method involves testing your options against your purpose to gauge alignment and support.  The DQ Spider offers an more robust method.

First, remember that the FAST Technique defines consensus as a decision good enough that it ‘will be supported’ (not thwarted in the hallway or uprooted in the board room) and not cause anyone to ‘lose any sleep’ rather than being anyone’s ‘favorite’ or making them ‘happy.’  Hence, this is NOT Kum-Bah-Yah, rather we are relying on the prowess of structured facilitation.

DQ Spider Chart

Decision Quality Spider Chart

How to Begin Using the DQ Spider

When either comparing decisions or testing for the quality of single decision, the method remains the same.  Therefore, plan on scoring and discussing six vectors that impact decision quality:

The Six Vectors[2] and Some Supporting Questions of a DQ Spider

  1. Appropriate Context (Frame)

    • Do you have an articulate problem to address?
    • How clear is the background, context, and impact of the decision?
    • How well do stakeholders commonly understand the problem?
    • To what extent do stakeholders commonly prioritize the problem?
    • To what extent has the decision been quantified for its impact, typically in dollars or FTE (full time equivalent)?
  2. Options Development (NOTE: some call these ‘alternatives’ but strictly speaking, in the English language, an alternative is one of two—if there are more than two, they are called options)

    • What are the possible solutions (decisions)?
    • Are any potentially critical options missing?
    • Should any inconsequential options be eliminated?
    • With remaining options:
      • To what extent are they realistic (doable)?
      • If the option is selected, to what extent will we win?
  3. Meaningful & Reliable Information

    • To what extent do we know what we need to know?
    • To what extent do we NOT know what we need to know?
    • How trustworthy are the sources of our information?
    • To what extent will this be a fact- or evidence-based decision?
  4. Clear Decision Criteria (aka Values, Trade-offs, etc.)

    • To what extent have we identified and clarified the most important criteria?
    • How well have the criteria been prioritized to reflect our internal value drivers?
    • How comprehensive are the criteria to help measure success against the project or organizational goals and objectives?
  5. Logic and Reasoning

    • How solid is our research, logic, and findings?
    • How well can we explain our choice for and choices against our options?
    • To what extent have we applied appropriate tools and rigors to evaluate this option?
  6. Action and Commitment

    • How confident are we projecting the outputs or outcome of this option?
    • How ready are we to commit ownership and resources to this option?
    • To what extent have we missed anything substantive that could impact the quality of this decision?

How to Complete the DQ Spider?

Consider this quick and simple method to capture scoring, using a low of one (1) and a high of five (5).

  • First of all, instruct each team member or stakeholder to generate their individual score for the six vectors above, against each remaining option.
  • Using a spreadsheet tool or simply drawing it on a large format Post-It® paper or white board, put a dot on the average value. Also place a dot for each outlier, the lowest and highest score, along each of the six vectors.
  • Discuss the outliers so that everyone can support the original average, or move the average value either lower or higher based on the discussion and consensual understanding.
  • Facilitate discussion around comparing the results and consider the following questions:
    • Do the values look defensible?
    • Which scores appear too high or low relative to the project or initiative they are supporting? (adjust the score if necessitated)
    • To what extent do the differences represent real risk or simply differences of opinion?
  • You may want to force rank the six vectors, if some are more important than others. Tell the group to consider the ranking during its assessment, and if necessary, change the values based on a permutation of the reduced or increased weight of each vector.
    • Therefore, in our illustration above, stakeholders would favor Option 3 if Ownership and Commitment are substantially more important than logic or reliable information.
    • Likewise, stakeholders would favor Option 1 if Context and Logic become more important than Criteria and Information.

[1] NOTE:  Microsoft Excel refers to this chart as a “Radar” Chart

[2] A ‘dimension’ or ‘factor’ capture a single measurement while a ‘vector’ captures multiple dimensions or factors.


Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

Finally, for additional help, access our in-house resources, (e.g., annotated agendas, break timers and templates used in our FAST Professional Facilitation Training) go to the Facilitation Training Store https://mgrush.com/shop/.

Furthermore, the FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual. Attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership-training workshop offered around the world. See MG Rush for a current schedule. FAST provides 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, 40 CDUs from IIBA, or 3.2 CEUs).

Finally, don’t forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. Change or Die provides detailed workshop agendas.  Therefore it includes numerous tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective.

Daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz, CSM, PSPO, CSPF, is the Managing Director of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Monthly Facilitation blog features over 300 articles on facilitation skills and tools aimed at helping others lead faster, more productive meetings and workshops that yield higher quality decisions. His clients include Agilists, Scrum teams, program and project managers, senior officers, and the business analyst community among numerous private and public companies and global corporations. As an undergraduate of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and MBA graduate from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on process improvement and product development. He continually aspires to make it easier for others to succeed.

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