What must be asked before the group can decide?
When making decisions with groups, it’s important to not make too many assumptions about what the group knows.
Questions are a great way of ensuring that all of the group members know what they need to know.
Explicitly stating questions often makes it more clear why the information is needed, and it provides the opportunity to agree on how important specific information is.
- What is the information that’s needed?
- How will this information factor into reaching a decision?
- How important will this information be in reaching a decision?
The group needs a shared understanding of what’s needed, why it’s needed, and how important the need is.
Information is at the heart of each decision that we make, and information is gathered by asking questions.
We decide based on the information that we’re aware of, and how relvant we feel that information is to the decision that we’ve been asked to make.
When making a group decision, it’s important to understand the relevance of information to the decision that is being pondered. Some information may be of great interest, but it might be mostly irrelevant in choosing what to do.
To establish the relevancy and importance of information, it’s helpful to explicitly state the questions that the information answers.
That allows the group to rank the importance of each question in terms of reaching a decision.
What is the purpose of the decision?
What challenge has prompted the need for a decision?
Decisions are made in response to a need or opportunity (a challenge).
Decision makers must have a shared undertanding of the challenge in order to arrive at consensus on how to address the challenge.
What are the objectives (goals) that we hope a decision will accomplish?
Decision makers need to have a clear understanding of what the decision is expected to accomplish. If the challenge is to fix a problem, then they need to know what “fixing the problem” actually means.
What are the requirements that the decision must meet?
The decision makers must strive to reach a solution that satisfies specific requirements.
What are the constraints on the decision that we’ll need to make?
Decision makers must have a shared understanding of the constraints within which the decision must fit.
What are the time constraints for making the decision?
What are the budget contraints for making the decision?
Who will make the decision?
Many people may be involved in gathering information and in deliberating a decision, but in some cases only a subset of those people have a formal vote on what the decision will be.
Who has knowledge that we’ll need to make a decision?
Decision makers need information that they may not possess, and may need to gather that information from others.
What are the options (alternatives) from which we can choose?
What questions must be asked about each option?
How important is each question to answer?
What questions must be asked to be able to determine if an option is valid?
What questions must be asked to be able to compare one option to another?
Decision makers must be able to compare the options based on common criteria. For example, if cost is a factor in the decision, then they must know the cost of each option.