The Trules method for reaching conllective decisions

26 Oct 2017  John  6 mins read.

The Trules Methodology for Reaching Collective Decisions

Trules implements proven techniques for reaching consensus and avoiding decision deadlocks.

There are several steps to the methodology, and the steps can be retraced whenever necessary, but once you become familiar with it you’ll find that it’s quite simple.

  • Ask questions to gather the information needed to make the decision.
  • Have everyone rank the importance of the questions.
  • Gather the answers.
  • Have everyone rate how each answer will influence their decision.

By ranking the importance of the questions and rating the influence of the answers the group will clearly see where they are in general agreement and where there are disagreements.

Knowing where you agree and disagree is priceless when you need to reach consensus.

Propose the central Decision Question

Groups make decisions to answer questions such as: “Where should we have lunch today?”

The Decision Question is the central question that establishes the context in which all the deliberations will take place.

Invite the Decision Makers

Once the initial draft of the Decision Question has been posted, the originator of the topic should begin inviting other group members. It’s important to involve others early on in the process.

Reach Consensus on the Decision Question

All of the group members should weigh in on the Clarity of the Decision Question. If group members feel that the question is unclear, then they are unlikely to be able to arrive at a good decision.

Each group member should also weigh in on the Importance of the Decision Question to them.

For example, if one group member doesn’t really care where the group will have lunch, then their contributions to the deliberations should be considered in that context. Their input may still be very valuable (they may have knowledge about a specific restaurant that will be of importance to the group), but getting their votes might not be important at all.

Propose the Problem Statements

The Decision Question needs to be answered because there are problems or opportunities that should be addressed. The decision will be the group’s recommendation for how to address those challenges.

The Problems Statements clarify why the decision needs to be made, and they clarify the requirements for what the decision should accomplish.

For example: We need to make a decision about where to go to lunch in the next thirty minutes Going to lunch together builds team cohesiveness We only have one hour for lunch, so the commute time and time to eat need to be less than that

Reach Consensus on the Problem Statements

Each group member should add additional Problem Statements to the list if they feel that the statements aren’t sufficient to understand the decision that needs to be made.

Each group member should weigh in on the Clarity of each Problem Statement. If a statement is unclear to the group members, then it will likely hamper their progress towards reaching a consensus decision.

Each group member should also weigh in on the Importance of each Problem Statement in the context of how the member will prioritize options.

For example, it may be important to one group member that the selected restaurant has Vegan items on their menu, but this may not be at all important to another member.

Propose the Criteria Questions

The criteria are the important measurable aspects of the options from which the group can choose. Defining the Criteria Questions ensures that the information necessary for evaluating each option is consistently gathered.

For example, given the previously stated problem “We only have one hour for lunch” we should ask about each restaurant option: “Can we travel to and from the restaurant and have lunch there in an hour? Reach Consensus on the Criteria Questions Each group member should add additional Criteria Questions to the list if they feel that the questions aren’t sufficient to properly evaluate the options.

Each group member should weigh in on the Clarity of each Criteria Question. If a statement is unclear to the group members, then it will likely hamper their progress towards reaching a consensus decision.

Each group member should also weigh in on the Importance of each Criteria Question in the context of how the member will prioritize options.

For example, it may be important to one group member to know whether or not a restaurant has Vegan items on their menu, but this may not be at all important to another member.

Propose the Options

Each group member should add additional Options to the list if they feel that there is a valid option which is not already being considered.

As new options are identified, it may become obvious that the Problem Statements or Criteria Questions need to be refined or ammended. This is to be expected. We often don’t remember important factors until we start evaluating specific options.

As new options are identified, it may also become obvious that additional people may need to be invited to help the group decide. For example, there may be someone outside the group who has knowledge about a specific restaurant that the group needs to consider.

Propose Answers for each Option’s Criteria Questions

Each group member should Propose an Answer for the Criteria Question if they feel that the existing answer (if any) does not provide the information necessary to properly evaluate the option.

Each group member should weigh in on the Clarity of each Answer. If an answer is unclear to the group members, then it will likely hamper their progress towards reaching a consensus decision.

Each group member should weigh in on the accuracy of each Answer. If an answer is not deemed to be accurate, then it should not be used to evaluate the option.

Each group member should also weigh in on How the Answer will influence their decision. An answer may incline them to choose or reject an answer, or it might not influence them at all.

Vote on the Options

Each group member should consider the information that has been gathered and Vote on Options. The should indicate which of the options they prefer, which are “OK”, and which are unacceptable to them.

Reach Consensus on the Options

Based on the information that has been gathered, the members of the group should be able to agree on one or more options. They will have at their disposal each others preferences and priorities, and be able to use that information to reach consensus.

John Reynolds
John Reynolds

John is the creator of Trules.