Here’s one way to get to the point faster and also to make group decisions that have a much higher chance of sticking.

1) Make your decisions in a concrete, concise and meaningful way

A decision-making process is a form of communication, and we have a useful framework for making communication better — it’s CCM:

  1. Be CONCISE: Start with the most important point. Skip the long-winded introduction and the full history that led you to the idea.
  2. State your proposal in a CONCRETE, unambiguous way: You want who, to do what, when? What will you be able to see, hear or touch?
  3. Use this process only for MEANINGFUL decisions to avoid agreement fatigue and make sure that the agreements you do make will stick.

2) Celebrate objections as the valuable input that they are

If you make decisions through a typical majority vote some objections will be overruled.

Those objections might have been pointing out major obstacles and overruling them will not make those obstacles go away.

On top of that the people who had those objections will probably not let them go just because they lost the vote. They’re way more likely to ignore or even undermine the decision later.

On the other hand full-consensus is probably too much to ask all the time.

There’s a middle-way: soft-consensus.

There are three ways to respond to a proposal:

1. An enthusiastic YES!
2. A neutral OK — I’m not against AND I WILL SUPPORT the implementation.
3. I’m AGAINST the proposal IN IT’S CURRENT FORM.

The “in it’s current form” is the key part.

If we aim at soft-consensus we’re aiming to make decisions that no one is strongly against.

If someone is against the proposal (in it’s current form) that’s great! They are not the enemy who is trying to sabotage your plan. They’re your best supporter who will help you avoid major pitfalls!

3) Talk about what you DO want, not what you DON’T want

Now comes the magic part that delivers the biggest babble-cutting power:

When someone has an objection don’t ask “Why?

Instead DO ask:

How would the proposal need to change for you to be at least OK with it?

Detailed explanations might come later, if needed, but always start with this question.

You’ll be surprised how often the modification will be acceptable to everybody and not a single sentence more is required.

Once you get into this habit you’ll not even have to ask: most objections will come with an automatic counter-proposal.

Even if the proposal does not pass you will have a much clearer idea where the disagreement is.

Here’s a handy summary:

Hope it helps!

interlocking hands image by Kraken Images via Unsplash