Reaching general consensus is crucial if you want your group’s decisions to be carried out… Trules can help.
If the folks who will carry out your group’s decision don’t “buy in” to the decision, then the objectives of the decision are unlikely to be met.
The Trules methodology helps ensure “buy in” by encouraging folks to “weigh in” during the decison-making process. This ensures that areas where the group agrees and areas where the group disagrees are surfaced early enough to be properly addressed.
1). Pose the Topic for Deliberation
What is it that you want the group to decide?
Some challenge has grabbed your attention, and you feel strongly that it needs to be addressed by a wider group.
Creating a topic for deliberating the challenge is your first step.
The challenge is likely a combination of problems that need to be solved and opportunities that should be pursued, and you can’t address any of them on your own.
To begin the deliberations with Trules, ask the central question about the topic…
2). Involve the Stake Holders
Whose input is necessary to reach a good decision?
Once you’ve identified the topic, then you need to involve those who can help make decisions and those who would have to carry out the decisions.
Inviting other people to participate in your Trules topic is your next step…
Depending on the topic, the group could be made up of friends, business colleagues, fellow volunteers, or family members.
Regardless of the type of group, the key is to invite enough people to ensure that the various stakeholders will be represented.
It’s not necessary, or even advisable, to involve everyone at once, but you do need to involve others early on to improve the odds that the group will to reach true consensus.
3). Agree on the Challenges
What are the problems and opportunities to address, and how important are they?
You raised the topic because you felt that it was important, but your perspective of the challenges isn’t enough.
Soliciting input from the group about the topic’s challenges is your next step…
Group members will likely differ in the importance that they place in solving each challenge, and knowing these differences “up front” will be very helpful in reaching consensus later.
4). Agree on how Options will be weighed
What do we need to know to evaluate the options?
With a good understanding of the challenges, it should be easy to identify the criteria by which options can be measured.
Soliciting input from the group about what information must be gathered is your next step…
The objective for defining the criteria is to ensure that you gather the relevant information about each option that is necessary for the group to choose between them.
As with the challenges, the importance of each criterium is likely to vary among the group members, and knowing this will help everyone reach consensus.
5). Identify and weigh the Options
Based on what we know so far, what options should we consider?
As soon as the group members begin to discuss the challenges, they will likely start identifying options…
Once identified, the information necessary to evaluate the option should be gathered.
In many cases the evaluation of an option will help uncover additional criteria. When this happens, it’s important to apply the new criteria to all of the options.
Often times gathering information may require involving additional people, and involving others may result in reevaluating all that’s come before.
It’s unfortunate when this happens, but necessary to produce a truly informed decision.
As information is gathered, each group member should “weigh in” on how the information influences them:
- Does the information make them want to choose the option?
- Does the information make them want to reject the option?
It’s to be expected that the group members will react differently to the information. Knowing these differences sooner rather than later will help the group reach consensus.
6). Review Agreements and Differences
What do we agree on, and where do we still differ?
Once the criteria information has been gathered and weighed by the group members, it will be obvious where the group is in agreement and where the group has differences…
Some differences will be relatively easy to resolve, but some may be irreconcilable.
When groups are motivated to reach consensus, this awareness is priceless.
7). Vote on the Decision
Based on your awareness of everyone’s positions, what option would you choose?
Picking the consensus decision from the options is easier when the group members are more aware of each others perspectives and priorities…
Voting on the options may require multiple rounds to reach a result that’s acceptable to all (or most), but in most cases a decision can be reached.
This decision may not be “the best” for anyone, but in many cases any decision that’s acceptable is better than no decision at all.