Helping a team to reach an agreed decision

Are the meetings that you attend fully focussed on achieving their intended outcomes? The intention may be to generate ideas or share information but sometimes the exact focus is not always clear.
Setting that focus is something I could be better at - how about you?
Generally I find that meetings work best when participants collaborate effectively to acheive a successful outcome.
I want to share what I have found to be an effective approach to group decision making.
A few year’s ago, I had the great fortune to attend a seminar conducted by leading thinker, Edward de Bono. Among the many creativity and thinking tools that he has developed, there is one system that I return to over and over again. He refers to it as PMI, where the acronym stands for Plus, Minus and Interesting.
It works by considering each of the headings in turn and spending a defined amount of time to reflect on and note the likely outcomes of a particular course of action.
It goes way beyond simply listing pros and cons as each participant, regardless of any previous view they hold, has to contribute suggestions under each category.
Here’s a squeeze point. You are at a team meeting discussing the desirability of a course of action. Opinion is divided and a decision is needed. Sound familiar? Here’s what I do?
Get participants to take a blank page, laid out landscape style. Across the top, state the proposed course of action. Draw two vertical lines to create three columns and head each P, M and I respectively.
Allocate a precise amount of time to gather the pluses, minuses and interesting points about the issue. Remember the egg-timer from an earlier post?
Feedback. At this point, interesting stuff starts to happen as often people begin to modify their thinking.
Even when it is clear that the pluses have indicated the desirability of a course of action, having taken the time to reflect on the minuses enables participants to identify possible risks and plan mitigations.
As for the interesting list? That’s the bit I really like as it takes us into the area of innovation and win/win solutions.
Edward de Bono’s website has some interesting PMI topics for consideration as well as some suggestions for applying the technique. Check it out here and see what you think.
You might want to run a PMI first to check its usefulness in shaping up to workplace squeeze!

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