There are different ways to to make decisions in groups
- Encourage Deliberation – it is not easy to come to a collective decision when we all have different experiences and needs and we come from different backgrounds. But if we are to stand together then our collective work requires us to be deliberative and hear each other. Be firm in articulating your thoughts but be open to listening to others and being convinced. If we all leave with the same position we walked in with then we can’t do our work together. Compromise is a valuable quality.
- Make Elevator pitches – In any deliberative process it can be helpful to practice making elevator pitches. These are short timed sessions with lots of energy where participants are asked to take a firm position and sell it to everyone. This can help to clarify different positions and convince people to change their mind. It is very good practice in politics and helps to train speakers able to speak to other audiences.
- Find Consensus – we should always strive for consensus. Consensus does not mean everybody agrees. It means that nobody firmly disagrees. Silence is not consensus so don’t assume it – test if there is consensus.
- Resolving differences – there may be broad consensus by a majority but full consensus is being held up by a small group or a few people with a strong position. This might be because they fundamentally disagree with the majority position; they want to amend it or tweak it; or they have a question of values or principles that needs to be addressed. Sometimes it’s worth taking a break and meeting in a smaller group to iron our differences and often it is a question of miscommunication or interpretation. If there are compromises made then report this to the wider group and seek consensus.
- Voting – sometimes it is necessary to vote if consensus cannot be achieved. We should always aim to have an overwhelming majority for a proposal in any vote. If the vote is evenly split then the proposal can be passed by a simple majority but it is likely to not carry much weight and indicates that more work needs to be done to close the gap. If there are more than one option it can help to have rounds of voting to eliminate some. The option with the most votes is not necessarily the solution. Sometimes it may be better to allow people to rank options in terms of whether they strongly agree or disagree and tally up the ranks. In this way you might find a compromise solution that most people agree with or at least don’t strongly disagree, rather than a solution that only a slim majority agree with. Here are some practical ways to vote
- Show of hands
- Division into groups
- Secret ballot
- Ticking ideas on a wall
- Digital polls on apps and social media.
Using your body – It’s always helpful to show consensus or voting by moving around physically. Raising hands only works when the question is clear, everybody takes part and they are clear on their response. Often people are unsure of the question or change their mind raising or lowering their hand. It helps to vote with your body by moving to a position. It’s then clear who is in the middle.