Listen Now
Subscribe: Apple Podcast
Check out the podcast on Google Play Music

SPaMCAST 507 opens with our essay on consensus decision making. Consensus decision-making techniques are used by almost every team. The process of getting to a decision or solution that the whole team can at least live will make sure that everyone on the team has a seat at the table and that team builds both majority and minority views into the deliberation process.

Want to read about consensus decision making?   

6 Step Framework for Consensus Decision Making https://bit.ly/2OZj5kF

Consensus Decision Making Revisited – https://bit.ly/2B2uJrT

Life Cycle of Consensus Decision Makinghttps://bit.ly/2B3bgri

Consensus Decision Making Forever – Sometimeshttps://bit.ly/2OY21vk  

In our second column, Susan Parente brings her I Am Not a Scrumdamentalist column to the podcast.  In this installment, Susan talks about the myths of agile and how falling into the traps that the myths create affect the delivery of value.

Jeremy Berriault (QA Corner) anchors the cast this week with a discussion of what happens when you make bad decisions.

Re-Read Saturday News

It is week 3 of our re-read of The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (use the link and buy a copy so you can read along). Chapter 2 continues building the case for checklists to deal with complex and complicated environments. This chapter firmly pins down the idea that checklists save time, money and lives.

Current Installment:

Week 3 – The Checklisthttps://bit.ly/2KMhVFR (more…)

Making Christmas Cookies Requires A Concensus

Getting to a consensus decision is not always a walk in the park. Everyone seems to have a different path to the same goals, or if not a different path, at least an opinion on why other paths are better or worse. Everyone involved in reaching a consensus decision must start with the the belief that achieving consensus is the goal. If everyone is not operating in good faith there will be no consensus decision. Without an agreement to reach a mutually beneficial agreement one side winning or not agreeing become the only options. Based on the simple premise that people want to achieve a consensus decision, the question is how to get from many ideas down to few and finally to one a single idea or decision. (more…)

Eating ice cream

Consensus for ice cream!

Consensus decisions are the output of a process in which a team or group finds a solution that everyone can either actively support or live with. Getting from the need to create a decision to the decision is where the magic (or at least the hard work) happens. The steps a facilitator takes in generating a consensus decision include:

  1. Identifying what the team will decide. Develop a clear outline to help a team or group to frame the scope of the decision. State the need for everyone to understand by pinpointing the priorities.
  2. Visualize what a positive outcome looks like. Visualization provides a mental model of what a successful consensus looks like and how it impacts the team. Use the process of visualization to mentally role-play getting to a consensus in your mind. This is a critical step not only for the facilitator but the whole team. Facilitators use mental models to guide, and team members use mental models to create a goal. Questions are a tool to generate a mental model. Two questions I have found useful are:
    1. What is the ideal or best outcome possible?
    2. What does the path to attaining that outcome look like?

(more…)

 

Standard poodle on yoga mat

Jax voted to take over my yoga mat!

One of the primary decision-making techniques used in teams is consensus decision making. The power of consensus decision making is that it yields decisions that are the output of a process in which a team or group finds a solution that everyone can either actively support or live with.  The process of getting to a decision or solution that the whole team can at least live will make sure that every that everyone on the team has a seat at the table and that team builds both majority and minority views into the deliberation process. Generating a consensus requires a number of skills that teams and team members need to learn.  These skills include the ability to:

  •       Communicate options and ideas
  •       Synthesize options and ideas
  •       Listen to team members effectively
  •       Discuss and identify similarities and differences
  •       Compromise
  •       Recognize the needs of others.

Diverse teams rarely have a single monolithic thought process. That means that consensus decisions are a synthesis of ideas in which no one got exactly what they wanted but the result is that the team broadly agrees on the specific issues and the overall direction.  When a team has generated a consensus everyone accepts the decision, will support the decision and understands the reason for making it. A consensus decision represents a team’s collective acceptance of the responsibility for enacting the decision and following through.

Despite the crisp definition of consensus, every team operationalizes the concept of consensus decision making differently.  Some bad consensus decision making processes include:

  • Voting –Teams often feel that they have achieved consensus when they have achieved a unanimous vote.  Voting per se is not bad in certain circumstances. Voting can be a way to test the broad position of a team and identify groups that hold different positions but rarely is it a tool to generate a synthesis or to expose nuances in position.  Voting is most often used to force a majority decision.
  • Majority or minority rule – By definition, consensus decisions represent a synthesis of ideas and concepts to generate support from the whole team.  Majority or minority rule scenarios by definition do not reflect a synthesis.
  • One-person rule – Decisions generated and enforced by a single leader do not represent a consensus decision – duh.
  • Bargaining – Bargaining shifts consensus decision making into a process where the participants agree on what each side gives or receives as payment to support the ideas or concepts of others.  Reducing decision making to a legalistic transaction reduces the need to create a synthesis of ideas.

None of the activities that aren’t good for consensus decision making are bad when used in different situations.  I have bargained with my family when deciding on a restaurant. Many a time have I negotiated visiting a place with good chicken wings one night and the vegan salad place the next (we are complicated).  One-person rule decision making can be very effective in an emergency. Captain Sully Sullenberger, who landed a crippled airliner in the Hudson River, did not use consensus decision making. Combining bad practices with consensus decision making is a problem.

Next:

Techniques for Consensus Decision Making

Techniques for Testing Consensus Decisions

 

Listen Now
Subscribe on iTunes
Check out the podcast on Google Play Music

SPaMCAST 469 features our essay on consensus decision-making.  Consensus decision-making is one of the most prevalent decision-making tools in organizations today. But, consensus decision-making has it plusses and minuses. We came to a consensus and decided to discuss the topic.

Our second column this week is from Kim Pries (The Software Sensei).  Kim revisits the topic of cognitive biases.  Biases can blind us unless we are vigilant. Kim’s advice is to ask for data rather than just allowing our biases to decide for us.

Our third column is via Steve Tendon, who will bring us part 2 (2 of 3) of our discussion of chapter 20 of Tame The Flow: Hyper-Productive Knowledge-Work Performance, The TameFlow Approach and Its Application to Scrum and Kanban  (buy a copy here).

Upcoming Appearances

Metricas 2017

I will be keynoting on Agile leadership and delivering one my favorite presentations, Function Points and Pokémon Go
29 November 2017
Sao Paulo, Brazil

Register

e-Read Saturday News

This week we re-read Chapter 5 of Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability: An Introduction by Daniel S. Vacanti. Chapter 5 is titled, Flow Metrics and CFDs. The chapter puts the ideas of flow metrics and the power of cumulative flow diagrams together to provide a boatload of information..  Buy your copy today and read along!

Previous Installments

Introduction and Game Plan

Week 2: Flow, Flow Metrics, and Predictability

Week 3: The Basics of Flow Metrics

Week 4: An Introduction to Little’s Law

Week 5: Introduction to CFDs

Week 6: Flow Metrics and CFDs

Dead Tree Book

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/098643633X/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=098643633X&linkCode=as2&tag=softprocandme-20&linkId=3488b22252fbe0c99b33ea226f9dcdf5

Kindle

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B013ZQ5TUQ/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B013ZQ5TUQ&linkCode=as2&tag=softprocandme-20&linkId=f5bdfb462b1cb570344bba7dff6e3c37

Get your copy and begin reading (or re-reading)!

A Call To Action

I am looking for leaders of Agile PMOs for a special podcast and for background interviews.  Please contact me to discuss the topic at spamcastinfo@gmail.com or t.cagley@premiosgroup.com.

Next SPaMCAST

SPaMCAST 470 features the return of Ben Linders. Ben and I discussed his new book, What Drives Quality.  We explored the definition of quality, who owns quality and what teams can do to deliver quality.  If you are into excellence in value delivery, this interview will inform and delight you..  

Shameless Ad for my book!

Mastering Software Project Management: Best Practices, Tools and Techniques co-authored by Murali Chematuri and myself and published by J. Ross Publishing. We have received unsolicited reviews like the following: “This book will prove that software projects should not be a tedious process, for you or your team.” Support SPaMCAST by buying the book here. Available in English and Chinese.

You can’t make a consensus decision by yourself.

Consensus decision-making is occasionally viewed as a panacea; however, there are several potential shortcomings. Like most situations, knowing an issue is a major step to resolving the issue. (more…)

How to decide?

Consensus decision making requires a number of prerequisites to be effective.  The prerequisites include a common goal, trust, commitment, participation, facilitation and a decision-making process.  There are numerous documented processes for making consensus decisions, each tailored to a specific set of circumstances.

Clear Process

A clear process makes consensus decision making easier because the process ensures that all viewpoints have time to be examined.  Following a defined process tends to be most impactful when the team is new, membership is dynamic or the group is large.  In all of these cases, a process helps to control potential chaos. The following process flow is a synthesis of a number of methods for team level consensus decision-making. (more…)