Decision Making Hacks for Teams: Part 1

How groups of people can get to properly informed, timely and committed decision-making without too much struggle

Four problems tend to get in the way when teams and groups come together for decision-making:

  • individuals are sometimes reluctant to say what they think, if that might conflict with other people’s views;
  • intuitive people struggle find a ‘logical’ justification for what their gut is telling them, and have no way to feed that information into the decision-making process;
  • the options can be fairly well-balanced with no outstandingly obvious choice;
  • when there are more than three or four factors that might influence the decision it’s tough to keep them all in mind and weigh them up at the same time.

I’ve spent over 20 years helping teams and groups make good, timely decisions and have a small kit-bag of tricks to help the decision-making process along.

Here’s my first hack, which is really good for letting people express a preference without too much risk of exposure and in a way that helps the process be a little more fun:

If you and your team have a decision to make, list out all your options and get people to vote for them. Give people a number of points that they can spread amongst the options as they see fit. So, for example, if you’ve got five options, give them something like 4 points that they can apply as they want.

You can see from the photo that, in this example, Options 2 and 3 are tied for first place, with 4 points each. Now, here’s the fun part – give everybody a Joker card and allow them to double their original vote for one of the options.

Playing their Joker gives people to the chance to show which option they are really committed to and makes it enough of a game to get over their reluctance to conflict with other people. This hack has got me through several difficult boardroom decision-making struggles, especially when there are power-plays and alliances operating behind the scenes.


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2 replies
  1. Mike Stops
    Mike Stops says:

    I participate as a coach on our executive development courses, there are a couple of exercises where this is pertinent. The best, most effective teams have a clear understanding of the team’s objective and then arrive at a similar approach. It helps take culture/language/personality out of the equation and makes all of the group more engaged.

  2. Nick Robinson
    Nick Robinson says:

    Thanks Mike, that’s the thing isn’t it? Getting those potential barriers out of the way and helping people get engaged – nicely put!

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