organizational communication

Four Tools Guaranteed to Send Your Team into Decision-Making Bliss

I hope this finds all you folks in the US happy and rested after the Thanksgiving holiday.

My last newsletter focused on suspending judgement while brainstorming to facilitate innovation and creativity, with a promise to follow up this week with ideas to help you or your team make decisions and select the best ideas to move forward with. Okay, maybe you won’t end up completely blissed out if you use these ideas, but at least you’ll have a darn clear picture of what’s important to your team. Which is pretty much the same thing, right?

A graphic recorder can often visually reflect where there is energy or consensus in the group through the illustrations they create, but what if you don’t have a graphic recorder, or the group is having a difficult time deciding?

My first step is usually to have the group create Clusters. When brainstorming, I like to have participants write ideas on sticky notes – one per note – and post them on a wall. This makes it easy to move the ideas around into different themes or categories, which can then simplify or reduce the number of items you need to decide on or prioritize. Be sure to clearly delineate and name the clusters.

Great, now we have a ton of awesome clusters. What now? Now, my friend, you have options (ironic, more decisions for you to make).  Here are some of my favorite decision-making and prioritization techniques, in no particular order, and with endless opportunities to tweak to fit your needs or group.

1.       The Dot Vote: A Classic. Chances are, you’ve used this at least once in your life…If the words “dot vote” make you want to run screaming from the room or throw the device you’re reading this on against a wall, please move on to Idea 2 immediately. However, it’s used often for a reason; it’s quick, can be used in groups of all sizes, and forces people to make tough choices. I usually give people multiple dot stickers so they can give their votes some weight: if you really love an idea, put as many dots on it as you’d like. If you are interested in several, spread your dots around. The caveat is that dot voting might mean an idea that will more heavily affect a minority of the group might get overlooked, even with weighted dot voting.

2.       Five Finger Vote: A la OGSystems Visioneers. This is another quick, weighted voting technique. After generating a list of clusters or key ideas to vote on, discuss them to be sure participants understand each one. Go through them one by one and ask participants to hold up fingers for each as follows:

0: Strong Preference Against (could not accept this idea)

1: Preference Against (accepting this idea would be a compromise to better alternatives)

2: Casual Preference Against (could accept this idea, but other alternatives are just as good)

3: Casual Preference For (could accept this idea, no better alternatives)

4: Preference For (would support this idea, and not prefer another idea)

5: Strong Preference For (could not support another idea)

Count the total for each option – the idea with the highest number of votes is the winner.

3.       Selection Chart: Another Classic. When I need something more analytical and number oriented, creating a chart with options on the left column and criteria for ranking across the top can be useful. Decide on a scale for weight (i.e. 1-5, 5 being most important), and go through each option and give each criterion a number based on how important it is. Again, add up the scores for each option and you’ll get a winner and see distribution of importance. Bonus: You can do this individually first, then come together to discuss patterns or differences across the group.

4.       Decision Trees (for inspiration & humor try this one): A la Dan Roam. Start with an important question, such as “Is dropping our price a good option?”. From there, ask and draw another, related question like “Is our market price sensitive?” decide yes/no, and if yes, ask another question, such as “How is our price relative to our competitor?”. If no, try another option since price isn’t a factor. And so on.

Now get out there and make a blissful Selection Chart to decide which of these tools you’ll use next time your team needs to make a decision.

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Need someone to help your team make some decisions...then actually move forward together? Click to get in touch about your next meeting or event that could use a touch of graphic recording magic.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

I'm proud to announce a new explainer video is out in the world thanks to the new One Health Institute at Colorado State University! Click the image above to learn how CSU's Dr. John Spencer is partnering with researchers and practitioners in Brazil to work toward ending leprosy!

The Benefits of Disagreement: How to Leverage it to Make Your Team a Communication Powerhouse.

In my last newsletter, I focused on the idea of creating a culture of open communication to foster a team that’s antifragile. This week I’d like to build on that and give you another tool to use to improve communication in your organization/team/family/etc. (If you’re asking yourself what the heck “antifragile” means, you can find the post here).

We all have different communication styles, and I’m a person who, most of the time, naturally does not particularly enjoy disagreements or arguments. Yet as a graphic facilitator, I often intentionally develop processes for my clients that make space for ideas to clash.

No, I don’t just get all the right people in the room, then open with some inflammatory question that sets everyone on edge and then let the group have at it. Recipe for disaster.

Instead, I frame disagreement as a way to avoid a pitfall that organizations across sectors find themselves in: If nobody is disagreeing, we all must be on the same page, right?

NOT NECESSARILY!

Okay, maybe you’ve done heaps of work, you actually ARE all agreeing on the same level, and you’re ready to crush it. But many times leaders find themselves with team members who are frustrated because they feel like they can’t safely share ideas that are different or at odds with others.

One way to start helping folks feel better about disagreeing is to start with one of my favorite ground rules from the Center for Public Deliberation at Colorado State University:

It’s okay to disagree, but do so with curiosity, not hostility.

Asking people to be curious when they’re disagreeing can be a powerful mental shift because it allows them to question in a constructive way, and also to accept different perspectives without getting defensive. Because we all know that no matter how carefully we plan, how great an idea might be in the meeting room, something unexpected will happen.

We also know that it takes courage to let yourself be vulnerable by suggesting half-formed ideas that you think could spark something great from your team. Allowing and encouraging your peeps to look beyond the obvious solutions by disagreeing curiously can help you avoid costly mistakes up front and build better concepts in the long run.

If a meeting, event, or the culture you nurture in your team is built on the idea that it’s good to disagree curiously, that allows people the space and encouragement to question, share, scrap & start over. It builds open, respectful communication, which builds trust. Which leads to great teams doing amazing things together. Boom.

Click on the image below to see the larger version.

ConverSKETCHes_Curiosity.jpg

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Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

 
Cheers, Karina


Need someone to create a space for curious disagreement for your next event? Click to get in touch about your next meeting or event that could use a touch of graphic facilitation magic.

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The City and County of Salt Lake, Utah have been working for over a year to better understand and respond to the needs of homeless individuals. Through outreach and collaborative governance, new resource centers will be available to help people move beyond homelessness. Here's a Strategic Illustration of their process and ideas moving forward.

The City and County of Salt Lake, Utah have been working for over a year to better understand and respond to the needs of homeless individuals. Through outreach and collaborative governance, new resource centers will be available to help people move beyond homelessness. Here's a Strategic Illustration of their process and ideas moving forward.