A key success factor for efficient team work is to be able to make decisions (and in an efficient way).
Best fully supported by every team member.
Learning how to best facilitate decision making is an important skill for an Agile Coach/ScrumMaster.
In this post I explain several ways to enable (better) decision making.
7 Levels of Decision Making
the group decides to go with it. If less – the proposal gets rejected.
Invisible yellow cards collected by team members and shown on various other places to show that their opinion has not been valued properly.
Or you conclude that after the groups preparation the whole team ratifies or revokes the suggested decision.
It’s especially useful with experts on a topic, who can best make the decision without having the whole team involved.
But be aware not to lose important team opinions (that later on will hinder decision making or even worse indirect missing decision support)
The team defines a threshold e.g. 60%,70% or 80% of all team members that have to agree with a proposal.
It is faster than a whole team agreement but implies the risk of potentially losing team members (like in the majority).
This time it’s maybe even more frustrating for the single team member who’s opinion got “overruled”. It can create a many vs. one feeling.
It’s the same as the majority voting but applied to a list of topics to prioritize. Also called dot voting.
Let’s take for example a list of 8 topics to discuss next (in a retrospective) and you need to figure out what the most important topic to start with.
She can even put more dots on one item showing a strong interest in a topic. (How many you can put on one it’s up to your definition).
Every team member can live with that decision and supports it.
In project team decision-making, acquiescence or agreement to a course of action commonly characterized by comfort with the general direction though not necessarily with all the specific details.
In project decision-making, consent is considered a more practical approach than consensus.
In project team decision-making, full agreement within the group of a course of action including all its details.
This approach requires negotiation within the group of all the precise details.
While leading to a higher level of “buy-in”, the result tends to be equivalent to the “lowest common denominator”.
Negotiations may be protracted and the final course not necessarily optimal and in the best interests of the project’s goals.
• Best for nurturing a business enterprise
• Best for projects, especially when people want answers
• Is interactive, dynamic
• Uses established relationships
• Requires near-universal agreement
• Targets individual specialist opinions
• Is inherently slow
• Can convert or respond to a crisis quickly
• Also has more subtle impacts
• Has clearly defined impacts
• Must accommodate fringe elements
• Allows overriding of unreasonable adversaries
• Permits “voyage of discovery” and attitude cultivation
• Requires reliable information gathering and “homework”
• Satisfies mutual and self-interests
• Focuses on project objectives
taken from Consensus vs. Consent by Max Widemann
Facilitate Consent (and Consensus) decision making
7 Levels Consent
(1) Whole hearted endorsement (full support)
I really like it. It’s great and is works like a charm for me.
(2) Support with reservation (slight concerns)
I have some slight concerns but I can live with it. I’ll support the group actively.
(3) Abstain (Step aside)
I step aside. I support the groups decision and don’t need to be involved.
(4) Agreement with minor contention (severe concerns)
Not perfect but it’s good enough. I disagree with a few points. But I’ll support the group.
(5) Serious disagreement (Step Out)
Don’t count on me. Disagreements are so serious that I’m not willing to support this decision actively. Group can still continue but without my involvement.
(6) More discussion needed
I don’t understand the proposal and I need more discussion before I can support this decision
I understand the proposal but do not support it! I can explain my concerns. (It can be that slight adjustments will change my support level or I really strongly disagree).
The group cannot decide!
Although the 7 steps consent method is a bit more complicated as it needs some practice to gain the advantages to the thumbs voting, it’s my favorite approach. You get much more insight from the group and can differentiate better whether it really makes sense to continue the decision process.
As facilitator I recommend not to continue with a decision if your have votes starting with 5’s (Step out) and above in your group. Often it’s best to check the 4’s too.
With only 1-3 voting – cool – you can go.
1-5 is a consent. 1-3 is a consensus 😉
How to apply it
Using a decision making workshop
Reconsider decision making areas (e.g. in your retrospective) and adjust rules to use accordingly.
- Consensus vs. Consent explanation by Max Widemann
- Crisp’s DNA and their decision making process
- A ScrumMaster’s practical toolbox by Ilia Pavlichenko, Sergey Dmitriev, Alexey Pikulev
- Consent Levels by the 3 Agile Guys
- Consenus gradient cards
- Team decision making – The gradients of agreement