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How do we decide when there are so many options? Part 1

Last week’s post focused on the reasons why you don’t need to all agree on what you want to do to move forward, particularly if that involves saying “yes” to every potential priority. Many of you may be thinking, yeah that is a great idea and I agree with your concept, but how in the world can I actually do this when I have so many passionate people vying for their own priority?

Here are 3 ideas to start with when you have many options and are trying to figure out a way to move forward together even if not everyone will agree on every area.

  1. Assess resources.  As we discussed last week, there are limited resources. It is really important for you (as a leader or staff member) to accurately assess the available resources and determine your capacity. This relates to staff time, funding for implementation, volunteer capacity and more. Try to be as realistic as possible (or better yet, double your most realistic estimate of how long you think it will take) to implement one or more priority areas. One of the best predictors is your past experience.  Reflect on your previous projects and consider the time and effort it took to get your teams or workgroups moving forward together.  I don’t know about you, but most of the time, I tend to underestimate the effort needed for any particular project. It is particularly important for me to work with others and solicit feedback in order to help develop a more realistic assessment of resources.
  2. Develop criteria for selecting priorities. This may include things like data related to the number of people impacted or the existence of evidence-based interventions. You will want to consider whether you have a passionate and committed leader to support these efforts, staff expertise, political will, funding, etc. You will want to ensure your criteria includes alignment to your values and mission as well.  By developing your criteria, you can help with guiding the discussion on how to prioritize. Also, try to make your criteria in the form of a picture or a “matrix” so each potential opportunity can be assessed based on this criteria and easily discussed with your workgroup or team.
  3. Discuss options openly.  Use your criteria as a guide and openly discuss potential options with your team or workgroup. See how the options match up to your criteria and talk about the pros and cons of any particular option. Encourage participants and members be open and honest about their perspectives so that when you get to the decision-making process, you are fully informed and have truly evaluated the potential options.  Take notes on the discussion and share the summary of the discussion with your team or workgroup. When you take the time to evaluate your options in this way, it can minimize frustration from those whose option did not end up being the priority area. They can see that the group was thoughtful in how the decision was made and why the decision was made in this way.

Join me next week as we discuss more strategies to help you decide and prioritize when there are so many options!

What has worked for you?  What criteria do you find to be most important when making a collective decision?

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Photo by Eugenio Mazzone on Unsplash

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