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Facilitation Resources - Volume 5

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Volume 5. Making Group Decisions

Overview: Making Group Decisions

Facilitators often need to select processes for group decision making. Decision making includes both consideration of who is making the decisions and the selection of processes or techniques to make decisions.

Who Makes Decisions

It is important to pay attention to who makes decisions to be able to come to a good decision. People are more likely to implement decisions when they have had an opportunity to participate in the decision-making process. Decisions are made in three major ways: through professionalism, democratic process, and communitarian democracy. Professionalism focuses on expertise and competence. Democratic processes focus on equal representation. Communitarian democracy focuses on participation and discussion by individuals who are affected by the decision.

How to Make Decisions

Utilizing appropriate processes and techniques will enable groups to make better and faster decisions. People will feel good about their involvement, and the overall effectiveness of the group will be enhanced. There is no magic technique that fits all situations. Matching processes to the style and preference of a group is one of the arts of facilitation. Process techniques should be carefully selected before a group meeting, but the facilitator and group need to have flexibility if the process does not seem to be working well. Having a facilitator kit with supplies needed for a variety of techniques will enable a facilitator to customize a process if the planned process is not working.

Many decisions made in community groups are arrived at through consensus. Consensus means that a good faith attempt has been made to hear everyone's views and reach a decision that everyone can support. Examples of strategies to make decisions with consensus include: affinity mapping, brainstorming, criterion listing, data dump, envision worst/best case scenario, and nominal group process.

Tips for Facilitating

As a facilitator, managing the process of making group decisions is an important task. You will find these ideas useful.

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