Decisive action: Crucial steps streamline the decision-making process

By Valerie von Frank

Educational consultant Ann Delehant tells the story of a school district that once created a rule for group decision making stating, “All decisions will be made by consensus. If consensus cannot be reached, there will be no decision.”


Brainstorming is a helpful method to tap the resources of an entire group that needs original ideas or more ideas to respond to an issue. Through brainstorming, a group strives for the quantity of ideas, not quality.


Criteria sort

Establish the criteria that will be used to evaluate proposed options and apply the criteria to those options.


Weighted voting format

This process provides information about where individuals stand and how strongly they feel about an issue. This approach can surface opposing viewpoints and priorities which prevent the group from reaching consensus. Weighted voting is not used to make the final decision between two options, but helps develop greater clarity in the discussion.


Paired comparisons

Also sometimes called “forced choice,” this process helps the group discuss and organize information. Members weigh each option against every other option. The power of paired comparisons comes from the choices that group members are forced to make. Even when two alternatives seem equal, members must choose one. Having to make difficult choices often leads people to see advantages — or disadvantages — they may not have noticed before. The process provides data to aid decision making.


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