organizational strategic planning

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!

Psst…What’s that behind you? It’s impacting your life more than you realize

You’ve been leaving them behind you all month. All your life, really. You probably let a few slip out behind you today. Sometimes they’re messy, sometimes perfectly designed, sometimes barely discernible, other times they last for weeks. They are uniquely you.

What the heck am I talking about? Footprints.

What do footprints have to do with business? Well, it depends on how you look at it.

Here’s two ways:

What you do impacts those around you, probably more than you realize.  Have you ever thanked someone for a nugget of wisdom they shared that really struck a chord for you, only to have them look at you with a mildly puzzled smile? They don’t even remember what they said, but it shifted the way you looked at life and made a difference for you. On the other end of the spectrum, a flippant and uncaring word can ripple through someone’s life and uproot confidence.

What kind of imprint are you going to leave with those around you? Will it feel like stepping in a mud puddle, or crunching in sparkling snow? (Is stepping in a mud puddle really a bad thing? I don’t think it has to be, which is part of the unshakable optimism that makes me great at getting groups through tough conversations.)

Footprints are also useful tools for change in visual strategic planning.

Having clear steps visually outlined is a super powerful tool to be more productive, synergistic, collaborative and creative with your team. Why?
- You all know where you’re going with a clear vision.
- You all know what’s expected of you within the larger group to make sure the team is successful.
- Everyone understands the mile stones that will keep you moving toward the vision, even if different people approach achieving them different ways.
- And everyone knows how what they’re doing is contributing toward the group’s success. You all know where to find this map, and check in regularly using it as a guide.

So next time your team is meeting to lay things out for the week, or for the next five years, try putting a few footprints on the whiteboard to show the path forward, and fill them in together. Here’s some to get you started…

Click on the image below to see the larger version on the blog.

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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

Is your strategic plan a huge document nobody ever looks at?  Click to get in touch and find out how a custom designed, beautifully succinct strategic plan everybody wants to examine and revisit could be in your future.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

This month I've officially launched my custom watercolor greeting cards and prints! All cards are 5x7 and printed on recycled paper and paired with recycled envelopes. They come as the individual images above, or with nice, uplifting quotes I've compiled. I'm still working on an online platform to purchase them, but you can email me for a direct order or stop by the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery or Wolverine Farm Letterpress & Publick House if you're local.