One of my clients’ favorite sequences of decision making exercises that promotes/provokes dialogue is scoreboard, brainstorm, multi-vote, and decision matrix. This may sound complicated but really it’s quite easy.
Let’s work through an example of trying to select a good car for a five-person family.
1. Clarify the task and process. Let’s select a good car for a five-person family.
2. Have team stand at a blank flip chart sheet. Discuss and document a scoreboard; success as measured by:
Example Criteria: (success as measured by...)
- Quality - defects, complaints, rework, etc.
- Cost – operating costs, warranty, etc.
- Practical - good storage space.
- Safety – great crash test score.
- Fun- bells and whistles to include CD, DVD, sporty drive.
3. Brainstorm auto makes/models that would support the scoreboard. Working alone, quietly, team members document their “ideas” individually on 3” x 3” Post-It’s. Write large enough with a felt marker so people can read each idea from a distance.
4. It is also helpful to calibrate the team by verbally sharing a few of their likely nominations. “Are we on the same page?” It is important to give each member 5 minutes alone to work/write quietly while writing on their Post-Its.
5. Meet at a flip chart stand or flip chart on a wall and present and discuss each make/model one at a time. Each person presents one of their ideas as it is their turn. Participants should sell their idea in terms of the scoreboard criteria. Promote dialogue. Dialogue should include people with data clarifying how a particular car does or does not fulfill criteria from the scoreboard. If you weren’t sure about how a particular make/model supported a particular scoreboard criteria, you’d suspend the meeting and go find out. Data drives the dialogue, not opinion.
For more detail about these first steps, see April 2015 newsletter.
6. If you end up with more than six options to choose from, quickly narrow the list by having people vote for their favorite options. Give everyone 10 votes but stipulate they cannot put any more than 5 votes on any one option. Vote, tabulate, and take the four high scorers to the next step.
7. Select the best choice with the use of a Decision Matrix: the example here lists the scoreboard criteria as row titles, and the choices as column titles.
Enter your team’s assessments of the support a particular choice provides for each scoreboard criteria using a 5 point impact scale: 5 = great fit, 1 = poor fit.
Here you compare each pair/cell. So considering Choice A, how does it support quality? Team discussion = 4. How does Choice B support quality? Team discussion = 3, and so on.
Should you find a close tie among the options, you can force rank the options by working with each scoreboard criteria, one at a time, and ranking the options scoring. With four options, the option that supports the criteria best would earn a 4, the next best a 3, and so on. Adding these numbers for tallying tends to exaggerate the spread and make a first choice more apparent.
Considerations and Applications
Certainly you would not use a process like this to decide where to go to lunch. But where to build a new facility, probably.
The decision matrix requires more dialogue than last month’s Force Pairs. The decision matrix is a great “robust argument” process allowing participants to dig into the difference between options as they do or do not support specific scoreboard criteria.
If useful, you can also weight the scoreboard criteria. Say in the above example safety is twice as important as fun, choice A’s 4 points for safety would be listed as 8 points emphasizing the impact of safety on your ultimate selection.
My clients have used this tool to select leadership candidates, strategic planning strategies, benefits of respective site locations, and many more.
Should you ever be unsure about what you want to do, working alone, these tools can help you come to a decision that you will support in far less time than just “sittin’ and thinkin’”. Buying a house, choosing a job - a very valuable tool.
In one fun practical example, I had a factory worker in a two day decision making seminar who asked at the end of the first day to borrow the materials (flipchart paper, Post Its, and markers). The next morning I had to ask how he used them. He reported he went home, sat his family down, and explained how sick and tired he was of all of them bickering about where to go on vacation. In about an hour they had all found a few places they were all pleased to go to as a family. Ah, serenity from dialogue!
These tools do a great job of helping teams develop and pursue common understanding of situations and options in such an interactive manner that they simultaneously build buy in (people support what they help create) . Best ideas win!
- Good Thinking Series – Part 2: Collaborate – includes about 50 collaboration tools
- Good Thinking Series - Associated Videos – Watch Collaboration Skills
- Upcoming public seminars: University of Michigan: Strategic Planning, October 1, 2015; Scenario Planning, October 8, 2015. Call for Jazmin Ellington (734) 647-0533) for registration details.
- Websites: www.johncanfield.com and www.goodthinkingseries.com
- Google Images – search for Decision Matrix, or Pugh Matrix, to find many examples and alternate formats
- Call or write: 616-392-2634, firstname.lastname@example.org