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To facilitate consensus around simple decision-making, consider the following scenario and do not forget to help the group articulate the purpose of the project your meeting supports.

Let us say for example that four of us are taking a trip from Minneapolis to New Orleans. Therefore, consider why we are going, the options, and how we might get there. Moreover, take into account the WHY, WHAT, and HOW of any decision.

 Options (HOW)

WHY Are We Doing This?

WHY Are We Doing This?

  • Aero plane
  • Automobile (motorized 4-wheel vehicle)
  • Bicycle
  • Boat (or, canoe)
  • Bus
  • Hitchhike
  • Horseback
  • Limousine rental
  • Taxi cab
  • Walk
  • Etc.

Consequently, to decide among the competing options we would consider the constraints and requirements. Therefore, let us call those considerations, the decision criteria. Because they provide an understanding of WHAT we must consider in our decision. Additionally, consider some of the decision criteria, as follows:

 Criteria (WHAT)

  • Accessibility
  • Comfort
  • Cost
  • Ecological impact
  • Expected arrival date (if any)
  • Fears or phobias
  • Length of trip
  • Quality of participants (eg, physical vitality)
  • Quantity of participants
  • Time of year
  • Etc.

 Purpose (WHY)

To effectively build consensus around which option to select, the criteria are essential. However, we are missing a primary component; ie, WHY are we taking the trip. Frequently, groups fail to understand or build the necessary purpose statement that underlies effective decision-making. As facilitators and participants, since the purpose may be clear in our own minds, we assume that everyone else’s purpose is the same as ours.

Prove it. Make certain you facilitate and codify a purpose statement, whether using the MG RUSH Purpose Tool or some other method; the purpose of the trip is essential to deciding HOW we are going to get to our destination.


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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 Facilitation Best Practices 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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